Paediatrics Publications

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health





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There is a need to improve the integration of substance use and mental health care for children and youth. This study examines risk and protective factors for substance use among youth with mental health conditions who received community-based or residential care services between 2012–2020 in Ontario, Canada. In this study, a cross-sectional design was used to examine patterns and factors associated with substance use among youth (12–18 years) assessed in the community (n = 47,418) and residential (n = 700) mental health care facilities in Ontario, Canada. Youth were assessed with the interRAI Child and Youth Mental Health Assessment (ChYMH). Substance use is identified by any substance use (including alcohol) 14 to 30 days prior to assessment. Logistic regression with generalized estimating equations was used to examine clinical, psychosocial, and environmental factors associated with substance use. This study shows that 22.3% of youth reported the use of substances in the community settings and 37% in residential settings. Older age group (Youth older than 16 years), being a victim of abuse, having experienced self-injurious ideation/at-tempt, being at risk of disrupted education, and having a parent/caregiver with addiction or substance use disorder were significantly associated with substance use. Several factors reduced the risk of substance use, including being a female, having anxiety symptoms, and having cognition problems. In conclusion, the study found that individual and parental factors increase youth’s risk of substance use, highlighting the importance of a holistic approach that includes consideration of social and biological risk factors to prevention/risk reduction, risk assessment, management, and recovery.