Access to Mental Health Services for Homeless Youth: ACCESS-Open Minds - RIPAJ, Montreal, Canada

Poster C109, Wednesday, October 10, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Amal Abdel-Baki1, Diane Aubin2, Srividya Iyer3, Milena Gioia4, Pat Bauco4, Marie-Eve Dupont4, Ashok Malla3; 1University of Montreal Hospital Centre, 2Dans La Rue/ACCESS Open Minds/Ésprits Ouverts, 3McGill University, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, ACCESS Open Minds, 4University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre

Homelessness is associated with psychological distress and risk of mental disorders in youth. Homelessness contributes to, triggers, and is a consequence of mental illness and addiction. These problems have major impacts on functioning-- impairing relationships, the ability to live independently, and the capacity to work/complete schooling. They increase suicide risk, dangerousness, antisocial behaviour, and legal problems. Paradoxically, few adapted social services are available and these youth are less likely to access traditional mental health services. Inspired by evidence suggesting that outreach teams offering intensive integrated interventions in the community can increase accessibility to mental health services as well as their effectiveness, we built a homeless youth services network. Since its inception in 2001 in Montreal (Canada), the RIPAJ (Réseau d’intervention de proximité auprès des jeunes de la rue/Homeless Youth Network) is in constant evolution and brings together community organizations, primary care clinics and specialized psychiatric services. This integrated network facilitates access to doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists, helping youth overcome homelessness and attain well-being. Teams meet regularly and are present in youth-friendly environments. Working in continuity and collaboration, they offer the most appropriate and adapted services to youth. ACCESS Open Minds pan Canadian research sets measurable goals to reduce unmet needs, ensure rapid access to mental health evaluations and high-quality treatments. Being part of ACCESS OM has brought a new wave of transformation in RIPAJ, increasing the engagement of youth and families to work collaboratively with clinicians, administrators and decision makers to improve access to services.

Topic Area: Service System Development and Reform

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