A specialty care model for young people experiencing psychosis at CAMH’s Slaight Family Centre for Youth in Transition is being expanded.
NAVIGATE was introduced four years ago as an outpatient pilot project specializing in treating youth who are experiencing psychosis, which tends to occur for the first time as early as age 14. With key philanthropic support from the Toor Family Foundation, the program has added three specialized bipolar disorder e-learning clinical training modules, which will build capacity at the Slaight Centre and allow more young patients to benefit from NAVIGATE’s unique multi-disciplinary, personalized approach to youth clinical care.
“We chose NAVIGATE after doing an assessment of other care models,” said Dr. Aristotle Voineskos, Vice President, Research at CAMH. “The evidence base, particularly in early psychosis, is constantly improving and evolving. We’re always looking to improve on the care we deliver and to put new evidence into practice. Embracing NAVIGATE was really the next step in standardized, comprehensive care for our clients.”
“NAVIGATE is truly integrated, team-based care,” said Slaight Centre Manager Sarah Bromley. “All of our patients are given additional supports and services routinely as part of their care. For example, Slaight’s education and employment experts are introduced right from the beginning of care to support all patients to attain their recovery goals.”
The NAVIGATE model incorporates a wide range of youth outpatient care options including:
- Individualized medication treatment aimed at reducing symptoms and preventing relapses in order to help people achieve their desired goals.
- A family education program aimed at teaching families about psychosis and its treatment. This can help reduce relapse by monitoring early warning signs and encouraging medication adherence.
- Individual resiliency training aimed at helping clients achieve personal goals by identifying and developing strengths while teaching them about their illness and its treatment.
- Supported employment and education aimed at helping clients to develop education and employment goals related to their career interests and then supporting them to obtain jobs or enroll in educational programs.
There are two phases of NAVIGATE. The first phase lasting up to two months involves engagement and stabilization and includes assessment, goal setting and medication, as well as addressing urgent basic needs like housing and legal supports. The second phase is the recovery phase, which is focused on progress towards personal goals and can continue for several more months or longer depending on the individual needs of the patient.
NAVIGATE also provides outreach and education to family members about psychosis and its treatment, and the Slaight Centre is working on expanding that to include a patient-facing e-learning Individual Resiliency Training manual specific to patients with bipolar disorder that they can work from with their families in collaboration with their clinicians.
Lillian, whose son experienced psychosis in his late teens, was one of the family members who consulted on the initial implementation of NAVIGATE, said comprehensive, integrated care is the key to the success of the program.
“Mental health is so hard to understand. It’s not a broken arm where you patch it up and you’re back out there,” said Lillian. “It’s about not just relying on meds but bringing together different disciplines and perspectives to help see a path forward—bringing together the social worker, the case worker, the psychiatrist, the employment counselor. That collaborative effort really appeals to me because it builds a stronger base for the individual and a stronger community response to care.”
In NAVIGATE, the Toor Family Foundation, led by Sukhdev and Sukhjit Toor, saw an opportunity to give back in a meaningful and lasting way.
“In giving to an organization like CAMH, and NAVIGATE in particular, we hope to assist with providing resources to patients, caregivers, and health care providers with the goal of increasing access to care, promoting equity among marginalized groups, and encouraging dialogue and education about mental health,” said Sukhdev, who is also President and CEO of Manga Hotels. “By supporting programs that help individuals, specifically youth, with their personal goals in work, life, and school through education and employment support, individualized medical treatment, family therapy, and resiliency training, we hope to also positively impact the experiences of patients and families in recovery.
“Part of the Toor Family Foundation’s vision is to advocate and advance the conversations about mental health care in marginalized and systemically under-represented groups,” added Sukhdev. “One of the barriers to accessing mental health care and treatment, including for these groups, is the stigma that is still associated with doing so. CAMH has built resources and programs that are available and safe for youth to access. Young people who are facing challenges with mental health and wellness can feel encouraged and welcome to receive comprehensive care in their communities. With programs like NAVIGATE, there are resources for family education and therapy, which are of critical importance for youth.”