Population mental health interventions for youth
Two successful youth mental health programs are featured in thePopulation Health Intervention Research Casebook published by The Institute of Population and Public Health (IPPH) of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Canadian Population Health Initiative (CPHI) of the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).
Healthy Transitions was developed in Eastern Ontario through a partnership between the education and health sectors to promote resilience and mental health in young adolescents at school. Classroom sessions on coping and mental health promotion skills were provided by young adult facilitators, recruited from university social work departments and community health centres. Thanks to the established collaboration with the mental health professionals in the community, program facilitators could identify and refer at-risk students to support services. School staff buy-in and cooperation proved an important component to success of the in-class program which was delivered to 208 students in groups of 12-15 students at a time. The program also featured a teacher in-service workshop. A facilitator resource guide was created to encourage replication of the program.
The casebook also highlights the evaluation project of KidsFirst, a Saskatchewan government population health intervention focusing on vulnerable children and their families in nine communities. The KidsFirst program consisted of intensive home visiting to help families achieve greater capacity through goals (such as finding a job) and support for healthy child development. The program identified families most in need and connected them with mental health and addiction services, as well as early learning and childcare programs.
The evaluation was done through a collaborative process between researchers, program managers and government policy makers. The team’s findings showed that the program staff needed to develop strong relationships with their clients before any information was accepted, or any shift in behaviour was achieved. While the collaborative evaluation may change community practices, it is difficult to assess if the evaluation will promote anything more than small-scale policy changes.
See “Population Health Intervention Research Casebook 2011″ atsecure.cihi.ca.
For more information about the Healthy Transitions program, seewww.child-youth-health.net.
For information on the research findings of the KidsFirst program, seewww.kidskan.ca.