This project was funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) and ran from February, 2014 – March, 2015. It was aligned with its Moving on Mental Health plan to strengthen the mental health system, delivering what children and youth need, when they need it, as close to home as possible. Through the Moving on Mental Health plan, the experience of children and youth with mental health problems and their families will be transformed by providing a set of core child and youth mental health services. More information about the core services and the Moving on Mental Health plan can be found at the Moving on Mental Health website.
Working with Children and Youth with Complex Mental Health Needs: An Integrated Training Project has helped direct service providers enhance skills in key areas including: Targeted Prevention, Brief Services, Family/Caregiver Skills Building and Support, and supporting the capacity to practice within a health equity lens. If you are a direct service provider working with children or youth with complex mental health needs, this project is for you! Although the project is now over, there are still many free trainings available on this website.
Why is this important?
Studies indicate that up to 21 per cent of Ontario’s children and youth, or about 650,000 individuals, are struggling with at least one mental health issue. The situation becomes more alarming when the number of children and youth who face additional challenges such as social exclusion, involvement with the justice system, living with co-occurring disorders or multiple diagnoses are taken into account. These are children and youth with “complex mental health needs.” They are at risk of slipping through the cracks of the health care, social services and justice systems and we are still learning how to serve them better. Additionally, their families and supports are faced with complex and fragmented care systems that can often be difficult to navigate. This increases the risk of losing these children and youth getting within the system.
Working with Children and Youth with Complex Mental Health Needs: An Integrated Project, has supported MCYS’s commitment to improving mental health services for children and youth with complex mental health needs so that they and their families have better access to a consistent set of supports as well as confidence in the agencies providing those supports.
Who are children and youth with complex mental health needs?
For this project, “youth” refers to individuals up to age 29, and “complex mental health needs” includes the following:
- Children and youth who are experiencing significant, rare or persistent mental health challenges that impact their functioning in most areas such as in the home, school and in the community (MCYS, 2013:8);
- Examples of this are (but not limited to) children and youth who are living with co-occurring disorders, multiple diagnoses, anxiety disorders, major depression and adjustment disorders.
- Complex issues have an impact on the mental health of children and youth in a way that:
- Make it difficult to navigate the service system and find care;
- Position them at the intersection of education, social care and mental health and addictions services, with high levels of need that require costly packages of care (adapted from O’Malley et al 2005:170).