TORONTO, November 22, 2016 - Children, youth and families living with mental illness and
addictions often struggle to access appropriate services. Getting help
early in life can help improve long-term outcomes and reduce the
likelihood that mental illness and addictions will follow children and
youth into adulthood.
With the help of CAMH’s Provincial System Support Program (PSSP), as a part of the Systems Improvement through Service Collaboratives initiative, the Durham Service Collaborative
successfully implemented a collaborative care model to support young
people up to age 21 and their families, leading to timely access to
care. The 30+ member Collaborative includes stakeholders from mental
health, health, developmental, justice, child welfare, education, and
settlement sectors, as well as Aboriginal and Francophone services,
family members and youth.
PSSP Regional Implementation Coach, Jonathan Berges, shows off the Durham Service Collaborative’s intervention manual. The manual uses original comics to help readers gain a richer understanding of the intervention in practice.
Since 2012, the Collaborative has worked towards better serving
children and youth with multiple needs, who are already accessing
services but whose needs are not being met. They developed a
multi-component intervention that includes:
- working with clients to develop a shared achievement plan
- a Community of Practice (Network of Champions) and,
- an Oversight Committee
November 2015 and June 2016, five youth and their families have been
formally supported through the intervention while approximately 16 youth
accessed additional support through the Network of Champions table.
struggled trying to find services all in one area; with the
Collaborative everything was brought together,” said one parent
participant. “To see that many resources available was amazing. The way
this intervention helped us, I can see this being helpful for anyone in
This collaborative, multi-organization approach
builds upon best practices in the field of mental health and addictions.
It ensures that youth and their families’ voices are involved in
service delivery from intake to planning; that approaches are holistic,
culturally safe, and value a variety of supports; that there is shared
governance in the Durham Region; and finally, that shared capacity
building and education is developed, delivered and maintained by the
Without the right support, however, local contexts,
resources and time constraints can make implementing this type of
For the Durham Service Collaborative, a
consideration from the start was the sheer size of the region, spanning
from Lake Ontario up to Lake Simcoe and including Ajax, Pickering,
Whitby, Oshawa, and the townships of Scugog, Brock and Uxbridge. Tying
the region together and connecting service providers with each other was
a clear need early on.
“We heard a lot of important feedback from the community,” said Jill Davidson,
Co-Chair of the Durham Service Collaborative Framework’s Network of
Champions and Clinical Supervisor for Frontenac Youth Services. “We
heard concerns that the system is fragmented, that there was not a lot
of communication within and across sectors, and that families were
feeling like their voices weren’t contributing to treatment plans or
supports being put in place, to name a few.”
considerations were how First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and Francophone
populations are being served in the region.
Using a variety of
tools and evidence-based processes as part of PSSP’s implementation
approach, the GTA Regional Implementation Team reviewed findings from
community consultations and best practice evidence. They returned to the
community with two intervention options.
“The response was quick and quite resounding,” said Jonathan Berges,
GTA Regional Implementation Coach. “The community liked components of
both, but they didn’t feel that any one model fit their needs. So as a
team we took those lessons and continued our consultations to find out,
if not those two interventions, what was needed to make the intervention
successful and sustainable in the community?”
Back at the drawing
board, the team identified system-specific elements that were needed
for a successful intervention model. One unique approach was to leverage
the robust system of non-traditional organizations in Durham, like the
Boys and Girls Club. Non-traditional organizations in this case are
services that aren’t necessarily resourced to provide mental health and
addictions support, but through their activities often come across
individuals with those needs.
“Including these organizations built
on recognized community strengths and addressed the Collaborative’s
desire to create individualized, strengths-based approaches to service,”
said Berges. “That promoted a holistic view of mental health and
Key to the intervention is the specific
collaborative planning process. Service providers work together to offer
recommendations for services that might best fit the unique needs of
the child or youth and their family. Through a collaborative process,
the child or youth and their family will select how they’d like to move
forward with a shared achievement plan. A service coordinator then
follows up with the selected agencies and the plan is put into action.
To learn more about the Durham Collaborative, their intervention and process, please explore the intervention overview.