In a Medical Journal of Australia supplement about early intervention in youth mental health, renowned youth researcher and clinician Dr. Patrick McGorry writes about the specific needs of transition-aged youth. Here are key challenges and opportunities that Australia faces, which may hold lessons for policy makers and service providers in Canada so they can better reach youth who often get lost in the gap.

 

  • Despite mental disorders being the dominant health issue confronting young people, youth mental health is yet to be recognized as a discrete, unified program area; responsibility for young people's mental health is currently split across multiple levels of government.


  • Public specialist mental health services have followed a paediatric-adult split in service delivery, mirroring general and acute health care. The pattern of peak onset and the burden of mental disorders in young people means that the maximum weakness and discontinuity in the system occurs just when it should be at its strongest.


  • Young people need youth-friendly services that recognize and respond to their special cultural and developmental needs. At the primary and community level, Headspace: the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, is a national response to this and aims to provide better access, engagement and enhanced multidisciplinary care for young people across Australia.


  • The specialist mental health service level should be complemented by youth-specific specialist mental health services for young people, aged 12-25 years, which would strengthen the existing system with a better targeted stream of care, providing access to integrated mental health, substance use, and vocational-recovery services. Alternative approaches to creating this capacity should be urgently developed and evaluated, and sustained reform informed by evidence as well as values

 

The articles in this issue of CrossCurrents feature McGorry's work, as well as highlighting Canadian efforts to make sure that youth get help when they need it most.

Touring the asylum

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In the course of researching the autumn issue theme on architecture and design in health, I came across some interesting historical sites about former asylums in Canada and the United States. Take a tour and imagine the lives that were lived there.

For our upcoming issue on architecture and design, we're developing a story for which we'd like your help. It's about therapists' offices and whether they affect the therapeutic process and outcomes.

We've developed two surveys - one for therapists and one for consumers. Your responses will help inform the story. Please answer the survey that applies to you. If we would like to publish your responses, I will contact you for permission. You can remain anonymous in the story. You can submit your responses as a comment on this blog, or email them to me at [email protected] by June 17.

That was the front-page headline in the New York Times on March 5. The story recounts the experiences of Dr. Donald Levin, a 68-year-old psychiatrist who used to do a lot of talk therapy and now does nothing but prescribe psychiatric drugs to his clients. When they start to talk about their real-life struggles, he sends them away. "I had to train myself not to get too interested in their problems, and not to get sidetracked trying to be a semi-therapist," he says.

Tips for outreach workers

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As the first -- or only -- front-line professionals with whom homeless people may be in touch, outreach workers can make all the difference in whether people who are homeless find a place to call home and the supports needed to stay there.

In 2008, outreach workers from around the United States gathered in Boston to discuss the skills needed for effective outreach. They came up with some tips for other outreach workers. Here they are -- some may be obvious; others are more subtle but just as important:

Eating well for mental health

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In an affluent country like Canada, it's surprising that 1.1 million Canadian households experience food insecurity at some point, according to the most recent Canadian Community Health Survey. It's a concerning statistic because food security is a key determinant of health, including mental health.

Here's a selection of recent research and projects about men's health, with a focus on mental health and addiction. Read more in-depth articles about specific topics in the summer 2010 issue of CrossCurrents.

In keeping with the latest CrossCurrents theme on stigma and discrimination by health care providers, I'm posting a report from a recent stigma-busting forum held in northern Ontario written by Suzanne Witt-Foley, a program consultant at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

The last two issues of CrossCurrents focused on the Internet in clinical care and stigma and discrimination by health care providers. This blog post I stumbled across nicely ties in to topics we addressed in those two issues. It provides practical tips -- from simple to more involved -- for how you can use the Internet to fight stigma and discrimination around mental illness and addiction "one post and tweet at a time" -- both within the health care sector and beyond.

Do you want to have a say in what the new DSM will look like?

You have until April 20.

Publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is a hugely anticipated event in the mental health and addiction field. The final document, which has already been 10 years in the making, is expected to be released in 2013. As part of the development process, the preliminary draft revisions to the current diagnostic criteria for psychiatric diagnoses are available for public review and comment. The proposed draft will be available for public comment until April 20 at www.dsm5.org/