11/20/2012 02:01 EST | Updated 01/20/2013 05:12 EST

More New Brunswick youths seeking help for emotional, mental health, report says

FREDERICTON - A report in New Brunswick flags an increase in the percentage of youths in the province seeking professional help for emotional or mental health.

According to the 2012 State of the Child Report released Tuesday, 15.1 per cent of people aged 12 to 19 sought help from a health professional last year — up from 11.1 per cent the year before. The national rate is 10.6 per cent.

New Brunswick has the highest rate of youths seeking mental or emotional help across Canada, the report says.

"This drastically highlights the importance of ensuring that children and youth can navigate services, from help lines and guidance counsellors to primary care providers and intervention specialists, for different levels of need," it says.

Stephane Robichaud, CEO of the New Brunswick Health Council, said the report's findings are cause for concern.

"There appears to be work required in making sure that if our youth are expressing the need to speak to someone that they are able to see someone in a timely way," he said.

He said that may mean more supports in the community such as employing more social workers rather than just adding psychiatrists and psychologists.

Miranda Mitchell, a second-year nursing student from the Esgenoopetitj (Es-geh-no-peh-titch) First Nation, said youths are becoming more aware of the importance of mental health.

"It is important to not only fix the physical health of people but also the mental health and the spiritual health and emotional health of people," she said.