Transforming youth mental health services in a large urban centre: ACCESS Open Minds Edmonton

Early Interv Psychiatry. 2019 Jun;13 Suppl 1(Suppl Suppl 1):14-19. doi: 10.1111/eip.12813.


Aim: This paper outlines the transformation of youth mental health services in Edmonton, Alberta, a large city in Western Canada. We describe the processes and challenges involved in restructuring how services and care are delivered to youth (11-25 years old) with mental health needs based on the objectives of the pan-Canadian ACCESS Open Minds network.

Methods: We provide a narrative review of how youth mental health services have developed since our engagement with the ACCESS Open Minds initiative, based on its five central objectives of early identification, rapid access, appropriate care, continuity of care, and youth and family engagement.

Results: Building on an initial community mapping exercise, a service network has been developed; teams that were previously age-oriented have been integrated together to seamlessly cover the age 11 to 25 range; early identification has thus far focused on high-school populations; and an actual drop-in space facilitates rapid access and linkages to appropriate care within the 30-day benchmark.

Conclusions: Initial aspects of the transformation have relied on restructuring and partnerships that have generated early successes. However, further transformation over the longer term will depend on data demonstrating how this has impacted clinical outcomes and service utilization. Ultimately, sustainability in a large urban centre will likely involve scaling up to a network of similar services to cover the entire population of the city.

Keywords: Canada; access; case identification; service transformation; youth mental health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Adult
  • Alberta
  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Urban Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Young Adult