Understanding how socio-economic processes inter-relate with young people’s mental health is important to inform the development of responsive mental health promotion initiatives. Thirty diverse Canadian young people were engaged within a process of social praxis, underpinned by a historical-dialectical ontological perspective, to explore the inter-relation among socio-economic processes and youth mental health and implications for mental health promotion initiatives. Findings show several inter-related contradictory processes within two overarching contradictory dynamics that Canadian youth are navigating as they seek to realize their mental health needs. The first overarching contradictory dynamic is between monetized, private, individualistic, profit-oriented economic processes and young people’s need for resources, freedom and time, and inclusive social spaces to enable their mental health needs. Participants’ descriptions of their approaches to seeking to realize their mental health needs in this context reflects a second inter-related overarching contradiction between communal and individual approaches to enabling young people’s mental health needs. In this context, young people are oriented inward to meet their mental health needs at the individual and inter-personal level, despite the crucial role of socio-economic processes to enabling their mental health needs. Despite varied access to resources, all participants struggled to balance meeting their mental health needs. Implications of these findings entail the need to focus on promoting synergistic relations among young people and socio-economic processes whereby enabling universal access to resources for young people’s survival, physical health and comfort is foundational to multi-level mental health promotion initiatives.

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