Transforming youth mental health care in a semi-urban and rural region of Canada: A service description of ACCESS Open Minds Chatham-Kent

Early Interv Psychiatry. 2019 Jun;13 Suppl 1(Suppl Suppl 1):48-55. doi: 10.1111/eip.12818.


Aim: This study describes how mental health services for youth are being transformed within the context of a semi-urban and rural region of Canada (Chatham-Kent, Ontario), based on the framework of ACCESS Open Minds (ACCESS OM), a pan-Canadian youth mental health research and evaluation network.

Methods: Transformation has focused on the five key objectives of ACCESS OM, namely early identification, rapid access, appropriate care, continuity of care, and youth and family engagement. A community mapping process was conducted at the beginning of the transformation to help develop a comprehensive inventory of services, identify challenges and optimize partnerships to address the five key objectives.

Results: The following strategies represent key elements in the transformation: coordination and partnerships between hospital, community and voluntary organizations, as well as different sectors of the community (e.g., Child and Youth Services, Education, Community Safety and Correctional Services, CSCS); working with local champions (e.g., Youth Diversion Officer and the Mental Health and Addictions Nurse in the school sectors); establishing a youth-friendly space in a central part of the community, where services are co-located and operate within an open-concept design; training of ACCESS Clinicians to conduct an initial assessment; engaging youth and family in service-level recruitment, planning, daily operations, and evaluation, including hiring of youth and family peer navigators; and, engaging the community through awareness and educational events.

Conclusions: The success of this transformation needs to be measured on various outcome parameters, but it is notable that neighbouring communities are already beginning to implement a similar model.

Keywords: Canada; access; community participation; health care quality; mental health services; youth mental health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Plan Implementation / organization & administration
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Intersectoral Collaboration
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Ontario
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Urban Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Young Adult