Implementing a new service delivery model in Child and Youth Mental Health

The transformation of our Child and Youth Mental Health services continued last year as we further strengthened our capacity to deliver high quality, evidence-informed services for children and youth with acute, complex needs.

Consistent with our strategic goal to be a best treatment provider, Kinark’s new mental health service model is client-centred, inter-disciplinary and data-driven. It has been developed to support the delivery of timely and appropriate treatment tailored to meet individual client needs, and improved client outcomes.

“Over the past year, staff were excited to receive extensive training in different therapeutic best practices, such as Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Unified Protocol (UP),” says Teresa Scheckel, Program Director, CYMH East.

MI is a counselling technique that strengthens an individual’s motivation to make healthy behavioural changes by exploring and resolving issues that they feel ambivalent about, Scheckel explains. Grounded in cognitive behavioural theory, UP offers therapists a suite of evidence-based therapeutic techniques they can use in a variety of combinations to customize treatment for individuals with different diagnoses.

Using client information to inform and improve treatment

When used in combination with client information collected before and during treatment to ascertain client needs, monitor client progress against validated treatment measures and outcomes, UP enables therapists to determine whether treatment is having the desired effect, and to refine therapeutic interventions to improve the efficacy of treatment and, ultimately, client outcomes.

“Having well defined treatment targets that are objective and measurable is essential to a clinician’s ability to accurately identify progress in treatment and to assist in projecting discharge” says Elisha Van Harte, Clinical Trainer, Community Mental Health.

“Now we can show clients, families and community partners data that measure treatment progress,” adds Van Harte. This is particularly helpful, she says, for clients and families who experience challenges in multiple areas, and are sometimes unable to see improvement because they still see such a large hill to climb.

“If we can show them objective data as reported by themselves or their children, this often bolsters hope and reinforces commitment and motivation towards treatment,” says Van Harte.

“While we still have more work to do, our staff has worked extremely hard to get us to where we are today,” says Chris Simmons-Physick, Program Director, CYMH Central. “They are committed to the process and integrating new evidence-informed interventions into their practice so that kids and families achieve better outcomes.”

“Families’ issues are very pressing and can affect life at home, school and in the community. It is vital that our services provide the best results possible for children and families as quickly as possible. The implementation of evidence-based practices where outcomes can be systematically measured allows us to better accomplish these goals,” says Dr. Laurel Johnson, Clinical Director, Child and Youth Mental Health and Chief of Psychology.