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Moving on Mental Health

 

What is Moving On Mental Health?

 

Moving on Mental Health (MOMH) is the action plan for the transformation of community-based child and youth mental health services. The goal is to ensure that Ontario’s infants, children, youth and families are able to get mental health services in their communities that are accessible, responsive and based on the experiences of the young people and their families. Moving on Mental Health, part of Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, strives to strengthen the community-based system for delivering mental health services and will bring people and organizations closer together locally, benefiting everyone.

What is a Lead Agency?

 

To lead the implementation process, the former Ministry of Child and Youth Services divided Ontario into 33 service areas, selecting through a competitive process, one child and youth mental health service agency in each to lead the process. East Metro Youth Services (EMYS) was named a Lead Agency under the Moving on Mental Health (MOMH) action plan for the Toronto service area in February 2015.

As a lead agency EMYS is tasked with leading and implementing the MOMH action plan in Toronto while participating in provincial efforts.  To facilitate system-wide changes to improve access, experience and mental health outcomes for infants, children, youth and families, EMYS is working in collaboration with other health and mental health service agencies and through extensive, meaningful youth and family engagement.  EMYS also participates in province-wide lead agency discussions, sharing lessons and insights, and informing a province-wide approach to the MOMH action plan.

What was achieved in the first few years?

 

The first year focused on building the foundations: building and strengthening relationships, identifying strengths and challenges in the system, and building knowledge.  Toronto’s system has a unique challenge given the size, scope and diversity of Canada’s largest city. Toronto’s population is 2.8 million (2014), with a population of 530,000 under the age of 18 years. With 1 in 5 young people experiencing mental health challenges, that’s a service community of more than 100,000 individuals.

Recognizing this challenge, EMYS adopted a Collective Impact approach to harness the expertise and experience of Toronto’s core service providers/community-based mental health agencies. EMYS also started to build on existing and creating new, deeper relationships with other sectors such as health and education to better understand their interconnection.  The goal is to move toward alignment and standardization of evidence-based and infant/child/youth/family-oriented services.

Year two continued to build on meaningful engagement with children, youth and families. There was also a focus on further involving other sectors and aligning with broader strategies. The goal was to better understand the pathways infants, children, youth and families take in and out of the mental health system to ensure best experiences and outcomes.

As the lead agency, EMYS provided overall leadership and strategic guidance in planning, monitoring and measuring progress including knowledge transfer activities, facilitating literature searches and providing access to relevant reports and data.  We also supported experts from our CSP network in developing more than 200 recommendations to help continue to improve the sector.

Community-based infant, child and youth mental health brought new opportunities to the sector including:

  • Growth among the city-wide network of what’s up walk-in™ clinics
  • Building a centralized point of access, now known as Mental Health T.O.:  Access for infants, children and youth & families
  • Partnering with SickKids to create four Urban Tele-Mental Health pilot sites to provide access to psychiatric services.

Expertise and insight from our sector at client intake, front line service, as well as program managers and senior leadership, have been engaged in the system transformation. Their support, expertise, and commitment to the many activities underway is key to creating a successful Toronto system. Additionally, we have embarked on several youth and family engagement opportunities and continue to build a meaningful and comprehensive approach to ensuring the voice of our clients are part of the transformation process.

 

What is happening now?

 

Creating a roadmap for such a complex change initiative requires a coordinated, responsive, and accessible mental health system for infants, children, youth and their parents/caregivers in Toronto. As the result of a Ministry directive, we are developing a 3-Year Action Plan.  Core Service Providers have identified four main priority areas including Access, Service Alignment, Data and Performance Management and Sustainability. These four topics will form the framework and provide focus over the next three years.

 

East Metro Youth Services in its capacity as lead agency and service provider, remains dedicated to doing whatever it takes to sustain and improve mental health services provided to infants, children, youth and families in Toronto.