What is YSUPP?

Youth Substance Use Prevention Program (YSUPP)

The Youth Substance Use Prevention Program (YSUPP) is a national initiative funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada that seeks to prevent substance use and promote wellness among Canadian youth. YSUPP is based on the Icelandic Prevention Model (IPM), a community-based approach aimed at identifying risks and mobilizing protective factors to prevent substance use and related harms in adolescents.  

The YSUPP aims to: 

  • Build organizational capacity among Canadian communities to deliver integrated project activities that prevent youth substance use, following the guiding principles and key steps of the IPM, 
  • Support the implementation of the IPM within a Canadian context,  
  • Develop and share consolidated knowledge from evaluating the implementation of the IPM across Canadian projects. 

Learn more about YSUPP here

Icelandic Prevention Model (IPM)

The Icelandic Prevention Model (IPM) addresses youth substance use by focusing on changing the social environments that affect youth, such as school, home, peers, and the broader community. This represents a change from previous models that targeted individual behaviours. As a community-based, system-level approach the IPM brings together researchers, policy makers, health and social agencies, schools, parents, and other community members in collaborative actions that change social environments in ways that prevent the use of harmful substances and promote wellness among youth. The IPM outlines a well-established process for identifying and influencing a community’s unique risk and protective factors, and tailoring prevention strategies within each community to reduce youth substance use and its associated harms over time. 

The IPM was first developed by the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA) in 1997 in response to high/alarming levels of alcohol, tobacco, and other harmful substance use among adolescents in Iceland during the 1990’s. The IPM was fully integrated into a large-scale national prevention initiative implemented across Iceland, which has been highly successful in reducing substance use among youth over the past 20 years. Rates of adolescent substance use in Iceland are now among the lowest in all of Europe. Recognized internationally for its success, the IPM approach has been adopted by more than 30 countries, including Canada. 

Learn more about the Icelandic Prevention Model (IPM) here

Planet Youth

Planet Youth is the organization through which the IPM approach is implemented worldwide. Planet Youth supports communities, municipalities, towns, cities, and countries to guide each partner through a collaborative process of implementing the IPM in their area. Each YSUPP project in Canada will work closely with Planet Youth for guidance in planning and delivering IPM strategies to prevent youth substance use shaped by the unique characteristics of each community.

Learn more about Planet Youth here

Adopting the IPM in Canada

The IPM approach was first adopted in Canada in Lanark County, Ontario in 2017 (Planet Youth Lanark County). Since then, other Canadian communities have explored the IPM approach and several have partnered with Planet Youth to actively engage in the IPM process.

The 2018 Chief Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada identified substance use among Canadian youth as a priority issue, calling for action to address this problem through primary prevention efforts that include leveraging the strengths of school communities. In 2020 the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) hosted a national forum to consult with a broad range of stakeholders on the development of school-based initiatives to promote wellbeing and prevent substance-related harms in students. Based on this collaborative work PHAC developed a policy paper describing youth substance use issues in Canada from a public health perspective and a tool outlining actions that school communities can take to prevent substance-related harms among youth. 

In 2023 the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) launched the Youth Substance Use Prevention Program (YSUPP) to expand adoption of the IPM across Canada. The YSUPP includes an emphasis on youth engagement, measuring mental health and wellness, and prioritizing youth populations disproportionately impacted by substance use.