eHealth Solution: a youth mental health self-referral service

March 04, 2016
An anti-bullying rally in Mistissini

The Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, in collaboration with the Cree Nation Government, Department of Justice and Correctional Services are partners with 5 other sites in a grant received by the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM). Valued at $1.075 million, the grant will finance a pilot program aiming to improve access to mental health services for youth at the 6 sites.

At the Mistissini site, the approximately 750 youth aged 11 to 25 who make up about 20% of the population will be the target group for testing eHealth approaches for improving access to services. Mistissini youth are internet savvy making great use of social media in all its forms and exploring eHealth approaches will help make services more friendly for them and adapted to their needs.

In the Eeyou Istchee region, at present youth are coming into the health and criminal justice systems during crisis situations. One in five youth is involved each year with Youth Protection Services, and a much smaller number with the Young Offender system. Teenage girls and young women are frequently hospitalized, mostly outside of the region, for behavioural disorders associated with alcohol and drugs, as well as suicide attempts and ideation. Older teen boys and young men have increasingly high levels of hospitalizations and convictions for assaults.

To improve access to services, the project will develop and evaluate an innovative self-referral strategy using the internet. The purpose is to improve direct and rapid access to youth mental health services by empowering young people in the process of seeking help. Besides the self-referral tool, youth will be able to communicate online (chat, text, videoconference) with service providers, and this will be built into a robust referral management system.

The project is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research through a $750,000 grant over four years. The Graham Boeckh Foundation is also investing $325,000, bringing the total funding to $1.075 million. The research team plans to launch its pilot program within a year.

The eHealth Solution will be tested in six sites in Canada: 2 health service centres in Montreal, 1 rural-urban centre in Ontario, 1 urban centre in Edmonton, and two Indigenous communities: Mi’kmaw Eskasoni First Nation, Nova Scotia and the Mistissini Cree Nation, Eeyou Istchee, Quebec.

These sites are participating members of ACCESS Open Minds, a pan-Canadian network of youth, families, service providers, researchers, decision makers, and community organizations transforming mental health services for youth and families by finding creative, local solutions.

Read more:

CRCHUM / UdeM, english:

CRCHUM / UdeM, français:

For information contact:

Tracy Wysote
Research Administrator
514-861-2352 ext 74224