Toronto, August 12, 2016 - Recognizing the importance of youth mental health and pressing issues
worldwide, the World Health Organization has designated August 12 as International Youth Day.
At CAMH, much is being done in support of younger clients who are experiencing
mental illness, substance misuse and homelessness.
Most recently, CAMH announced its Child,
Youth and Emerging Adult Program (CYEAP). As part of our ongoing
clinical transformation, the CYEAP integrates our inpatient and outpatient
Child, Youth and Family mental health and concurrent disorder services, Early
Intervention services for psychosis, Adult Neurodevelopmental Services and the
three Centres of Innovation: the Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child Youth and Family Mental
Health, the Slaight Family Centre for Youth in Transition and the Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression.
Leadership committee for new youth services (L to R): Dr. Kristin Cleverly, Dr. Aristotle Voineskos,
Lisa Duggan, Dr. Andrea Levinson, Tracey MacArthur, Dr. Joanna Henderson, Dr.
Jan Malat, Chris Bartha, Dr. Paul Kuryack, Dr. David Wiljer, Dr. Sean Kidd, Dr.
Absent: Dr. Peter Szatmari, Dr. Crystal Baluyuk, Dr.
Stephen Sokolov, and Dr. Tony George.
We sat down with Christina Bartha, Executive Director of CAMH’s
Child, Youth and Emerging Adults Program to talk about the importance of
providing services for youth and emerging adults.
From your perspective, what is CAMH’s role in the child and youth
As an academic health science hospital that provides clinical care,
education, research, and supports system design and advances in public policy,
CAMH is in the unique position to inform and influence innovation and progress
in all aspects of care related to children, youth and young adults.
With 70 per cent of clients in the adult mental health system having had
their first experience of mental health difficulties prior to the age of 24, and
many prior to the age of 17, we play a leadership role in promoting more
developmentally informed, evidence based approaches to working with this
There are many important differences in providing care to younger
populations, but a key difference is the degree to which young people need to be
engaged not only in informing their own treatment plans but in co-developing
with service providers, the models and approaches they feel will be most
effective in addressing their mental health challenges.
What are some of the key challenges youth face in accessing mental
In a word – ACCESS to developmentally informed services and treatments that
reflect how they want to engage with service providers. This includes things as
straightforward as hours and location of services to more complex issues related
to how they want to receive treatments and the way they want to engage in
relationships with professional providers.
In terms of the services we provide, why is it important to focus on
Historically, our service models have been divided between children (defined
as up to age 17) and adults (defined as 18 to 65 +). At age 17, young people
have been expected to jump from developmentally informed child and youth models
to the adult model, which provides less support and often less flexible services
based on expectations that at age 18 young people have developed to their full
In reality, young people continue to grow and develop towards their potential
well into their twenties and importantly, young people who experience mental
health challenges may experience obstacles to healthy development that require
continued developmentally sensitive supports into early adulthood. When these
are not provided, young people fall through the cracks of our system and don’t
successfully “transition” and manage the next stage of development.
We have seen many of these young people experience deterioration in their
mental health because the level of support they needed was suddenly unavailable
What is most significant about combining CAMH services to form the
CYEAP? How will this new program better meet the needs of this growing client
CYEAP is unique in that it provides services to clients age five into their
mid to late 20’s. Its goal is to ensure each major point of transition is
supported ensuring a young person does not fall through the cracks when being
transferred between services within CAMH, or from CAMH to the community.
The program also has an historic opportunity to leverage the resources across
CAMH that focus on children and young people; we envision establishing more
evidence based integrated care pathways that will inform and advance care across
the mental health system, advancing our leadership role in educating the next
generation of practitioners in the most current models of care informed by a
powerful research program already established through the McCain, Slaight and
Working with our provincial system partners and policy leaders at CAMH we
want to have a big positive impact on services of the future. It is an exciting
time to be working in this field and I am inspired by the dedication and
commitment of our staff, our clinical and scientific leaders, the senior leaders
of CAMH and our Foundation, and most of all, our clients and their families.
Since the CYEAP’s inception in June 2016, what have been some of the
In a short period of time, we can say we’re already improving pathways of
care for clients by enhancing the linkages and processes between Access CAMH,
our Emergency Department, Concurrent Youth Services and Early Intervention
Services. Wait times for assessment have been improved across children’s mental
health, youth concurrent disorders and Adult Neurodevelopmental Services.
The most recent change took place in July with our Early Intervention Service
Assessment Clinic integration. Clients are now seen within seven days of
referral, and sooner if identified as requiring urgent or rapid access to
In addition, the YouthCan
IMPACT initiative was launched, partnering with community-based services
to bring tertiary care to integrated care, youth mental health clinics in the
A strategic planning process is now well underway and we look forward to
announcing our vision, priorities and plans in the coming months.