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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

New McCain Centre hitting the ground running

February 1, 2016 - After officially launching in May, CAMH's Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth & Family Mental Health had a busy 2015.

“There is a real energy and excitement in our team about making a difference in the lives of kids and teens and their families, both here at CAMH and by working with mental health services throughout Canada,” says Dr. Joanna Henderson, Director of the McCain Centre.

The team is celebrating accomplishments and new projects under way in several clinical and research areas, including:

• Contributing to the development of three Toronto-based Integrated Collaborative Care Teams (ICCT). "These will be a one-stop shop for youth and their families," says Dr. Henderson, providing timely access to evidence-based services in walk-in clinics. The three clinics will open their doors in May, and will offer a range of services, including brief solution-focused therapy, peer support for youth and skills support for families, and access to Internet tools. The community-based clinics are being developed in collaboration with East Metro Youth Services, Delisle Youth Services, The Sashbear Foundation, LOFT, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto East General Hospital and SickKids through the YouthCan IMPACT project. The McCain team will also compare the performance of these ICCTs to outpatient psychiatric services for youth aged 14 to 18 in four hospitals in a randomized controlled trial.

• Ramping up TargetKids, a collaboration between CAMH, SickKids and St. Michael's Hospital focused on the developmental health of more than 6,000 children from birth to six years of age who attend primary health care clinics in Toronto. This project will track how children develop in three health domains (school readiness, mental health and cardiometabolic risk) and research the relationship between these domains, including common risk factors.

• Expanding its youth engagement initiative. The team has partnered on projects within CAMH and with organizations across Canada to give youth a powerful voice in the development of services or research projects aimed at this audience. Recent projects include teaming with CAMH Education on the Thought Spot app and conducting youth focus groups with the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to understand the needs of transition-aged youth.

"In all our research projects by our team, we advocate for youth in research planning, design and implementation," says Dr. Henderson. The McCain Centre team includes two youth engagement facilitators with lived experience, and plans to bring on four additional youth in this role in the months ahead. "We're here as a resource to help engage youth in a meaningful way," says Dr. Henderson.


Olivia and Tyson presenting 
Olivia Heffernan and Tyson Herzog, Youth Engagement Facilitators in the McCain Centre, discussing mental health with students at a Toronto middle school last spring (Photo by Justin Morris)


• Beginning research and capacity-building activities to optimize transitions and care for emerging adults. "We know there is a need for better care around the transitions from the adolescent service system to the adult service system and more appropriate care for older teens," says Dr. Henderson.

Based on two earlier research initiatives led by Dr. Henderson and Gloria Chaim, McCain Centre Head of Community Engagement & Partnerships, the McCain Centre has created a set of criteria and tools for optimal transition-and youth-centred care. The team has begun sharing these tools at capacity-building events with health and social service practitioners in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and B.C.

Also in this area, Dr. Kristin Cleverley, Clinician-Scientist in the McCain Centre and the CAMH Chair in Mental Health Nursing Research at the University of Toronto, is starting a study to understand how the transition from youth to adult mental health services affects participants' mental health and overall well-being. 


Gloria Chaim speaks to audience 
Gloria Chaim, McCain Centre Head of Community Engagement & Partnerships, speaking at a capacity-building session with Natasha Naraidoo, National Youth Screening Project coordination staff member, in Cranbrook, B.C. in October


• Undertaking a comprehensive review of clinical practice guidelines for child and adolescent depression, with McMaster University and CAMH's Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression. "Our goals are to assess the quality of these guidelines and how relevant they are for real-world practice so that we can identify the guidelines that are most useful to people who provide services to young people," says Dr. Henderson. The McCain team is also completing a similar review, focusing on guidelines for treating anxiety in children and teens.

• Laying the groundwork for clinical research. As well as expanding its own staff and expertise, a key initiative in this area is collaborating with CAMH's Cundill Centre and Slaight Family Centre for Youth in Transition to create a strategic plan for clinical research across their centres and establish shared research protocols.

"We're proud of what we've accomplished in just a few months, and we're looking forward to an active year ahead," says Dr. Henderson.

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