Why Together is Better for Child and Youth Mental Health

May 19, 2017

“The right service at the right time”

The Community Foundation for Kingston & Area (CFKA) held Speakers Series luncheon on Monday, May 8, 2017 that focused on work ongoing in KFL&A to improve our response to the concerns about child and youth mental health. The issues were introduced to Kingstonians in CFKA’s 2016 Vital Signs report.

In 2012, the Province of Ontario launched “Moving on Mental Health” which challenged communities to work and plan together to build a better system for Child and Youth Mental Health.  Pathways for Children and Youth serves as the facilitative lead for this endeavor in our community.

Michelle Hurtubise, Executive Director at Ontario Centre of Excellence (COE) for Child and Youth Mental Health shared the Centre’s approach to promoting a culture of continuous learning and innovation throughout Ontario, helping communities strengthen their services.  Continuous learning, evolution and innovation is needed to inspire excellence and innovation.  The attributes of excellent organizations were described.

Nicki Collins, Executive Director for Pathways for Children and Youth talked about why mental health deserves our attention and described how our community is planning together to improve our child and youth mental health system, tackling issues like improving access into services, engaging youth and families, and building a map to help guide service planning.  Our community’s Community Mental Health Plan helps to set the priorities for all services in support of child and youth mental health.

Pathways works closely with a Knowledge Broker and a System Planning and Performance Coach from the COE.  Most recently, the COE has been helping Pathways strengthen its youth and family engagement efforts.

It was noted that Pathways for Children and Youth is accountable to the Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services (MCYS) for the child and youth mental health funds spent in our region.

Dr. Sarosh Khalid-Khan, Division Chair of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at the Hotel Dieu Hospital (HDH) site of the Kingston Health Sciences Centre, discussed the innovative work conducted to coordinate referrals for child and youth mental health services from family physicians, and how this coordination has helped to increase access to the “right service at the right time” for KFL&A children and youth.

Implementation is underway.  The patient’s situation is triaged and then the patient is assigned to the appropriate agency – be it counselling or psychiatric services.  In this manner, access to, and flow through the system is being improved and the appropriate service for the patient is being assigned.

Preliminary results since implementing the centralized intake and triage include:

  • Wait time to first service appointment with Pathways for Children and Youth decreased by 45.5% (from 22 days to 12 days); and
  • The average wait time to access the mood and anxiety clinic at HDH is reduced to 98 days from 125 days representing a 21.6% decrease in wait time.

The centralized referral and triage model is being expanded to include other Family Health Teams and community mental health agencies in communities that fall within the service catchment area of HDH (i.e. Brockville, Belleville and Smith Falls)

Kris Millan, Director, Family Health Division, KFL&A Public Health, then kicked-off a question and answer session by asking each speaker (as a panel) a question to clarify and/or expand upon her presentation.


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Community Foundation for Kingston & Area