Year: 2023 Source: The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. (2022). 67(3), 179‐191. SIEC No: 20230818
Objective In many Indigenous communities, youth mental health services are inadequate. Six Indigenous communities participating in the ACCESS Open Minds (AOM) network implemented strategies to transform their youth mental health services. This report documents the demographic and clinical presentations of youth accessing AOM services at these Indigenous sites. Methods Four First Nations and two Inuit communities contributed to this study. Youth presenting for mental health services responded to a customized sociodemographic questionnaire and presenting concerns checklist, and scales assessing distress, self-rated health and mental health, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Results Combined data from the First Nations sites indicated that youth across the range of 11–29 years accessed services. More girls/women than boys/men accessed services; 17% identified as LBGTQ+. Most (83%) youth indicated having access to at least one reliable adult and getting along well with the people living with them. Twenty-five percent of youth reported difficulty meeting basic expenses. Kessler (K10) distress scores indicated that half likely had a moderate mental health problem and a fourth had severe problems. Fifty-five percent of youth rated their mental health as fair or poor, while 50% reported suicidal thoughts in the last month. Anxiety, stress, depression and sleep issues were the most common presenting problems. Fifty-one percent of youth either accessed services themselves or were referred by family members. AOM was the first mental health service accessed that year for 68% of youth. Conclusions This report is the first to present a demographic and clinical portrait of youth presenting at mental health services in multiple Indigenous settings in Canada. It illustrates the acceptability and feasibility of transforming youth mental health services using core principles tailored to meet communities’ unique needs, resources, and cultures, and evaluating these using a common protocol. Data obtained can be valuable in evaluating services and guiding future service design.