Pathways to care among youth with serious mental illness : Preliminary results from a systematic review

Kathleen MacDonald1,2, Nina Fainman-Adelman1, Kelly Anderson3, Srividya Iyer1,2; 1McGill University, 2ACCESS Open Minds, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, 3University of Western Ontario

Background : Mental health problems are the leading contributor to burden of disease in adolescents and young adults. Large numbers of youth, even with serious mental health problems, remain untreated or seek help after considerable delays. Even when they do seek help, they encounter complicated pathways to care, long wait lists, and disengaging entry into services. These treatment delays, while associated with many negative raminifications, can be reduced with increased knowledge on the pathways to care experienced by help-seeking youth. Methods : A systematic literature review was conducted to outline the current state of knowledge on pathways to care for youth across the spectrum of serious mental illness. Results : Preliminary results suggest that the issue of pathways to care is under-studied in fields outside of psychosis. Referrals to specialized services (e.g for eating disorders, bipolar disorder) often did not result in young people being seen or offered treatment. Many youth still experience entry into care through distressing portals such as ERs, police involvement, etc. Preliminary results suggest that journeys through healthcare systems account for large portions of the treatment delays Conclusion : Pathways to care for youth with serious mental disorders are varied and often complex. There are no established measures to document the experiences of help-seeking youth through the mental healthcare system, especially across contexts. These results demonstrate the importance of focusing attention on systemic factors that affect treatment delays, given the importance of providing timely and engaging access to youth seeking mental health services.

Topic Area: Service System Development and Reform

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