Strap in for another exciting season of Playing With Marbles, brought to you by Brain Canada. In past seasons, we learned about all of the cool brain science research coming out of labs in Canada, from mini-brain organoids in petri dishes to women’s health beyond the bikini. We’ve taken a look at the brain at a microscopic level and learned how each part of your marble functions to help you encode, process, and remember the world around you. 

This season, we’re going a step further to understand all parts of the brain, and this one’s a little more difficult to see with a microscope. Now that we know the brain’s inner workings, we want to understand how those inner workings might affect how someone thinks, feels, and behaves. In simpler terms, we’re going to explore the intricacies of mental health, and mental illness.

Just as we focused on women’s brain health last season, we want to make sure we’re zeroing in on those who have been forgotten or who need the most support. As heard in this episode, mental illness is the leading cause of disability for people in Canada between the ages of 15 and 29 - that’s why we’re centering this season on youth mental health! There’s tons of information out there for young people about mental health, but much of it falls into the category of pop science at best, and misinformation at worst. To combat the junk science out there, we’re talking to real scientists about what goes on in the brain when someone is experiencing mental illness.

To make sure we’re getting all sides of this complicated topic, we’re doing something we’ve never done before on Playing With Marbles. This season, we talk to real young people who struggle with their mental health. Our guests range in age, gender, and diagnosis. You’ll get to hear what it’s like living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the day-to-day struggles of ADHD, and what it’s like to seek treatment for an eating disorder. We hope pairing the real, lived experiences with the science behind these disorders will provide a nuanced look at the long-maligned topic of mental health and mental illness.

This episode serves as a primer for all to come on this season of Playing With Marbles. Hop on in and listen to what’s in store.

Fast Facts

Globally, one in seven 10- to 19-year-olds experiences a mental health disorder.By the time people in Canada reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have, or will have had, mental illness. Importantly, young people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness than any other age group.Up to 70 percent of mental health challenges begin during childhood or teenage years.The COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected the mental health of young people in Canada. Only 42 percent of youth in Canada aged 15 to 24 years old reported having excellent or very good mental health in late March and early April of 2020, compared to 62 percent in 2018—the largest drop of any age group.Less than 20 percent of youth struggling with their mental health receive appropriate treatment.

Learn More about This Episode’s Cool Research

The focus of this season of Playing With Marbles is all about youth mental health. As heard in this episode, one in every four young people are in need of mental health services every year. That’s why Brain Canada has partnered with RBC Future Launch and Power Corporation to support the Canadian Youth Mental Health Insight Platform, led by Dr. Sean Hill from the Centre for Addition and Mental Health (CAMH). The platform seeks to provide a state-of-the-art informatics platform that can serve as a foundation to optimize mental health for youth across Canada. It will support knowledge and data integration, open data, machine learning and improved communication between key networks, research databases and stakeholders in the youth mental health community. Read more about the platform through Brain Canada’s website here


If you’re struggling with your mental health, you’re not alone.

If you are in immediate danger of harming yourself or others, call 9-1-1, or head to your nearest emergency room. You can also call or text 9-8-8 to reach the Suicide Crisis Helpline. Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Young people can chat anytime with Kids Help Phone by calling 1-800-668-6868. Services are available in English and French.

Wellness Together Canada provides one-on-one counselling, self-guided courses and programs, and peer support and coaching. Youth can contact this service by calling 1-888-668-6810 or texting WELLNESS to 686868. Adults can contact this service by calling 1-866-585-0445 or texting WELLNESS to 741741. You can also find credible articles and information on their website. 

The Canadian Mental Health Association can help you find resources, programs, or support for yourself or others. Find a CMHA branch in your area here

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health provides Mental Health 101 tutorials and online courses on their website.