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.
© 2019 The Authors Early Intervention in Psychiatry Published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.