Parenting adolescents from ethno-cultural backgrounds: A scan of community-based programs in Canada for the promotion of adolescent mental health

Ruiz-Casares, M.; Kolyn, L.; Sullivan, R.; Rousseau, C. (2015)

Children and Youth Services Review

53 | 10-16


To i) describe current community-based programs across Canada to support parents for the promotion of adolescent mental health, with special attention to ethno-cultural populations; and ii) identify needs, gaps, and opportunities for the development of a framework to support parents for the promotion of adolescent mental health.


We conducted an internet-based cross Canada scan of community-based parenting programs that promote adolescent mental health in ethno-culturally diverse populations, followed by structured phone interviews with program staff. Findings were categorized according to audience (ethnicity/culture and age group), geographical distribution and coverage, and program type. Barriers to access and outreach mentioned by interviewees were documented.


We found a total of 47 programs that met our search criteria. The greatest numbers were found in the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, particularly in the Greater Toronto and Vancouver Areas. Most programs consisted of psycho-educational, information-based workshops, support groups, or used innovative approaches (e.g., arts, alternative medicine, mentorship, and skillsdevelopment courses). Five programs (11%) had parent and youth components. From the perspective of service providers, cultural distrust, stigma, financial constraints and language barriers pose challenges to outreach. Program evaluations are limited and often not publicly available.


There are gaps in geographic coverage and types of programs available to parents for the promotion of adolescent mental health in ethno-cultural communities. Inconsistent and insufficient funding [and other forms of institutional support] detract from the capacity of community-based organizations to adequately support families and conduct, publicize, and evaluate their programs.