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A study of a cross-section of youth mental health services across Canada has found that two in five young people receiving services are experiencing significant concurrent mental health and substance use problems. The project, led by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), also shows that increased collaboration between youth service providers can enhance services for youth.
Building on similar pilot projects conducted by CAMH in Ontario, the National Youth Screening Project involved 10 service networks in five provinces and two territories across Canada, and examined the service needs of youth between the ages of 12 and 24. The networks included service providers who work with youth from across sectors, for example mental health, substance abuse treatment, child welfare, education, family services, justice, and social services. Staff at these agencies implemented a standard screening tool that quickly and reliably identifies youth who may have one or more mental health or addiction problems.
"We know that youth with mental health and substance use issues would benefit greatly from early intervention and specialized care, but most are likely to remain undetected, some well into adulthood," said Dr. Joanna Henderson, Head of Research in CAMH's Child, Youth & Family Program and Project Co-Lead. "We found that when service providers use a standardized screening tool it gives them another strategy for understanding a youth's needs and ensures that when different services work together, they are speaking a common language."
Statistics uncovered during the study further illustrated the need for better pathways to care:
"These numbers are significant and give us a better understanding of the challenges our youth are facing," said Gloria Chaim, Deputy Clinical Director of CAMH's Child, Youth and Family Program and Project Co-Lead. "What we learned gave us a better understanding of the gaps that exist in youth services and how we can better address them. We hope the use of a common screening tool across sectors will assist in the development of collaborative models of service delivery systems across the country."
Several system improvement recommendations were made based on the report's findings, including:
The National Youth Screening Project was funded under Health Canada's Drug Treatment Funding Program to foster collaborative work between youth-serving agencies in communities across Canada.
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
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Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. "Improved access to youth services likely following mental health youth report." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 16 Aug. 2013. Web.
6 Dec. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/264869>
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