ACCESS Open Minds Edmonton

The ACCESS Open Minds network is a pan-Canadian initiative to show how youth mental health services can be transformed, improving access to appropriate mental health & addiction services for youth aged 11-25 years. It is a joint venture of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Graham Boeckh Foundation. Each partner is contributing $12.5 million over the five year life of the project.

The initiative leverages the existing strengths of communities and systems, and is structured to be adaptable to the diverse geographic, cultural, and socio-demographic contexts in which Canadian youth live, as well as the diversity of Canadian youth and their presentation of mental health needs.

The Edmonton site clinic is located in the Bill Rees YMCA, which was chosen for its accessibility, relation to high youth traffic, and welcoming environment. Youth can also access the program through youth hubs at other locations, including iHuman, the Armoury (YESS), and Centre High. Additionally, as the program aims to be as flexible as possible, ACCESS OM clinicians can meet youth at any location of their choosing.

ACCESS OM clinicians serve as a health bridge, connecting institutions where youth initially present their need for care, service providers, and other actors. ACCESS clinicians will provide ongoing support and guidance from start to finish, ensuring follow-through on the road to appropriate care. At all times, the youth is the ultimate judge of whether their needs are being met and the services provided are appropriate.

The five main objectives of ACCESS OM are:

  • Early identification (aims at 20% decrease in number of youth with unmet mental health needs)
  • Rapid access (within 72 hours of help being sought)
  • Continuity of Care (no arbitrary service cut off at age 18)
  • Youth & Family/Caregiver Participation (collaborative planning of pathways of care)
  • Appropriate Care (referral to the right services is within a maximum of 30 days)

Why this Project is Important:

Adolescence and young adulthood is a time of significant transition and development. It is during this life stage that over 75% of mental health disorders first appear. Currently, there are many mental health services available for youth and young adults. But less than 25% of Canadian youth in need of mental health & addiction services, receive the care they require in a timely manner. Thus the need for improved access to mental health services, particularly for youth, is urgent.

Support from the Mental Health Foundation

The funding provided by CIHR and GBF has initiated the project, but does not allow for all the programming and technological components identified by front line mental health workers as ideal components in access enhancements. Support from the Mental Health Foundation will fund additional projects that complement ACCESS’s current initiative. Current gaps in programming that the Foundation hopes to augment are: peer support programming for family and youth, recreation and leisure therapy, single-session counselling options, e-mental health, and group therapy customized to the cultural and social needs of youth.

For More Information:

ACCESS Open Minds: Edmonton Website

ACCESS Open Minds: Project Overview

ACCESS Open Minds: Edmonton Site Clinic Tour