TORONTO, October 6, 2022 – The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), in collaboration with youth, family, service providers, policymakers, as well as health researchers and data scientists from across Canada, announced today it will build “Canadian Youth Mental Health Insight Platform (CYMHI)”, powered by RBC Future Launch, with support from Power Corporation, and the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF). This is a first-of-its-kind Canada-wide cooperative effort between youth mental health stakeholders across the spectrum, especially youth and their families. The result will empower the sharing of and learning from mental health data to better prevent, diagnose and treat youth mental illness in Canada.
Mental illness is the leading national cause of disability among those aged 15-29, with an estimated one in four Canadian youth in need of mental health services each year.
“We know that many youth in Canada are in crisis,” said Dr. Jo Henderson, Director of CAMH’s Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth & Family Mental Health, and project co-lead. “Young people are experiencing mental health challenges now more than ever, but there are so many barriers to care: lack of local services, lack of access to the best treatments, and lack of cohesion among experts working to solve these problems. The CYMHI will address these problems by connecting youth, families, researchers, policymakers and community organizations to improve services and programming for youth across the country.”
CAMH leads the pan-Canadian team that has been awarded a $5.13-million grant for this project over three years via a 2021 open call for applications to the Brain Canada Youth Mental Health Platform, powered by RBC Future Launch, with support from Power Corporation.
“The state-of-the-art informatics tool will incorporate information from diverse organizations across the country including academic institutions, community-based mental health services, hospitals, and youth and family advisories from organizations such as Foundry, Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario and other youth substance use and mental health services,” said Dr. Sean Hill, Director of CAMH’s Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics, and principal investigator. “The CYMHI platform will facilitate high-impact research and the development of innovative youth mental health approaches that would otherwise not be possible.”
The interactive web portal will enable knowledge sharing in creative new ways. One feature will be personalized services tool to match youth based on their unique needs to available services in their area. It will include precision modelling to predict the future needs of individual youth and help them and their families make decisions about their care. And, it will also incorporate a national atlas of service demand & utilization—the largest of its kind ever built—to help decision-makers understand a community’s youth mental health needs in order to better allocate resources.
Cierra Garrow is an advisor on the project with first-hand experience of trying to navigate the youth mental health system: “In high school I tried to end my life three times before I was finally able to access help. And even then, I had to travel six hours away from home to get the treatment I needed to be healthy. The CYMHI platform will help ensure that young people across the country have access to the best practices and evidence-informed treatments no matter where they live. This will allow youth to have informed consent of their treatment options and make decisions for their care that fit their needs best. CAMH is also building young people’s voices and concerns into the DNA of this project. It’s making knowledge accessible to everyone, not just a privileged few, removing the silos and gate keeping in the youth mental health sector.”
“It is about bringing everyone together to share and exchange what we are living, and learning,” says CYMHI leadership team member Steve Mathias, Executive Director at Providence Health Care and leader of Foundry, a British Columbia network of centres that offer young people health and wellness resources, services and supports both in person and virtually. “Right now, 9 out of 10 provinces are funding services with research components, but there is no link or synergy across the provinces. British Columbia can’t learn from New Brunswick, and Ontario is missing evidence from Saskatchewan and so on. We need to standardize and harmonize the collection of data and tools to do better for our youth.”
“More than ever, brain research is critical in helping us, as a community, recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its effects on the brain and our mental health,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, Brain Canada President and CEO. “We must invest in projects like these that will lead to concrete impacts on brain health for youth in Canada.”
Funding for the Brain Canada Youth Mental Health Platform, powered by RBC Future Launch, with support from Power Corporation, has been made possible by the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF), an innovative arrangement between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada Foundation, RBC Foundation and Power Corporation. To learn more, visit www.braincanada.ca.
About the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit camh.ca or follow @CAMHnews on Twitter.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)