Improving youth mental health and substance use outcomes through primary-care based health services

Mental health and substance use (MHSU) disorders affect 1 in 4 Canadian youth. Of all age groups, young Canadians (ages 15 to 24) have the poorest access to health services. In response, British Columbia (BC) established a primary health initiative called 'Foundry' to promote and support early treatment for young people with MHSU disorders. Foundry is comprised of seven centres that provide integrated, coordinated health services for young people. The aim of my five-year research program is to improve health outcomes for youth accessing Foundry services through enhanced patient-centred assessment and evidence-based care tailored to the specific needs of young people experiencing MHSU challenges.

The key elements of this research program include:

  1. Enhancing the role of youth in MHSU research.
  2. Measuring and understanding the health needs of young people with MHSU disorders.
  3. Developing tailored and accessible treatments for youth with MHSU, including employment support.

Over the next five years, Dr. Barbic will work collaboratively with Foundry and other community organizations across BC to identify the health priorities of youth with MHSU disorders, and use new methods to measure these priorities and demonstrate how patient-centred assessment can drive meaningful care. By engaging youth, families, clinicians and trainees, this research program will address a national priority to improve the health outcomes of young people with MHSU disorders.