By 2020 mental illness will be one of the 5 most common illnesses causing morbidity, mortality and disability among youth. At least 20% of Canadian youth have a psychiatric disorder the impact of which can dramatically alter their life trajectory. Focus on the factors contributing to this problem is crucial. Lack of coordination between child and adolescent mental health systems (CAMHS) and adult mental health systems (AMHS) and consequent disruption of care during this vulnerable time of transition is one such factor. Reasons for and the impact of this divide are multilayered, many of which are embedded in outdated, poorly informed approaches to care for this population in transition. This paper considers the etiology behind these reasons as potential foci for change. The paper also briefly outlines recent initiatives ongoing in Canada and internationally that reflect appreciation of these factors in the attempt to minimize the gap in service provision for youth in transition. The need to continue with research and program development endeavours for youth with mental illness whereby access to services and readiness for transition is no longer determined by age is strongly supported.