A collaborative approach to support child and youth mental health

October 14, 2016

They say it takes a village to raise a child, with each person playing a unique role in providing a nurturing environment that is connected, supportive, and safe as children grow and move into adulthood.

This grassroots, community approach has been the focus of a Doctors of BC/Ministry of Health Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use (CYMHSU) Collaborative since it started in the Interior in 2013; an approach that is evident at Learning Sessions held regularly for all partners to share and learn from each other for the next phase of their work.

And last week was no exception, with close to 600 people travelling from all regions of the province to attend the Collaborative’s eighth learning session in Vancouver.  Members of Local Action Teams from 64 different communities, 11 system working groups, and other partners, representing the 2,400 people involved, all congregated for this packed two-day event.

A First Nations welcome helped to kick-start the day by bringing people to their feet with an opening dance, including Health Minister Terry Lake, who attended to voice his support and encouragement to all involved. Highlights were many, and included parents and youth sharing their personal struggles and impacts of caring providers on their lives. Day one closed with words of wisdom from special guest, Dr. Martin Brokenleg, drawn from a lifetime of working with youth at risk.

The dominant theme over the two days was sustainability, and the work that remains to build ‘pathways’ to integrated care in communities for the long term. GPs, specialists, clinicians, school personnel, RCMP, community partners, and youth and parents, all learned from teams piloting the work, and physicians specifically gathered to lead discussions on how pathways can be embedded in the emerging models of Patient Medical Homes and Primary Care Homes.   

The last Learning Session will take place in March 2017. The next months will be a crucial period for the Collaborative, as all concentrate on ensuring that system changes are sustained both locally and provincially.  

For more on the CYMHSU Collaborative, click here