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New online resource helps improve access to child and youth mental health care

November 8, 2016

It is estimated that 84,000 children and youth aged 4-17 in BC experience clinically significant mental disorders at any given time, but only 26,000 or 31% are accessing specialized mental health services.

Timely mental health care can be difficult to access, especially in rural and remote communities. Recognizing this, a new online learning resource has been created with the goal of increasing the ability of general psychiatrists, pediatricians, and other health care professionals to diagnose, treat and manage children and youth with mental health disorders, no matter how remote their location.     

"Physicians were telling us, 'we are seeing kids every day. We really need more training,' "said Dr. Jana Davidson, psychiatrist in chief at BC Children's Hospital.

Called "Learning Links", the resource features 15 distinct modules including anxiety, depression, self-harm, OCD, psychotic disorders, sleep disorders, addictive disorders and more.  Each module only takes 30-60 minutes and can be taken as a person’s schedule allows. Following completion, users can submit for professional development or continuing education credits. Learning Links was created by an expert team led by Davidson, as part of the CYMH Substance Use Collaborative funded by Doctors of BC and the BC government.

Early testers found it very valuable - a survey of showed that the majority felt the modules increased their understanding of mental health and substance use disorders (85%), increased ability to identify (89%), ability to treat (82%) and confidence in treating (85%).  One of the testers, Dr. Francine Ling, a Nanaimo-area pediatrician, appreciated the practical component of the modules “It gave me ways to talk about the issues with parents, and the words or phrases you can use, and then backed it up with resources”, she states. Links to other resources and in-depth medical information are also provided.

For more information and to access the modules, visit www.learninglinksbc.ca