UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Exploring how to enhance care and pathways between the emergency department and integrated youth services for young people with mental health and substance use concerns Glowacki, Krista; Whyte, Madelyn; Weinstein, Jade; Marchand, Kirsten; Barbic, David; Scheuermeyer, Frank X.; Mathias, Steve; Barbic, Skye


Background Integrated youth services (IYS) provide multidisciplinary care (including mental, physical, and social) prioritizing the needs of young people and their families. Despite a significant rise in emergency department (ED) visits by young Canadians with mental health and substance use (MHSU) concerns over the last decade, there remains a profound disconnect between EDs and MHSU integrated youth services. The first objective of this study was to better understand the assessment, treatment, and referral of young people (ages 12–24 years) presenting to the ED with MHSU concerns. The second objective was to explore how to improve the transition from the ED to IYS for young people with MHSU concerns. Methods We conducted semi-structured one-on-one video and phone interviews with stakeholders in British Columbia, Canada in the summer of 2020. Snowball sampling was utilized, and participants (n = 26) were reached, including ED physicians (n = 6), social workers (n = 4), nurses (n = 2), an occupational therapist (n = 1); a counselor (n = 1); staff/leadership in IYS organizations (n = 4); mental health/family workers (n = 3); peer support workers (n = 2), and parents (n = 3). A thematic analysis (TA) was conducted using a deductive and inductive approach conceptually guided by the Social Ecological Model. Results We identified three overarching themes, and factors to consider at all levels of the Social Ecological Model. At the interpersonal level inadequate communication between ED staff and young people affected overall care and contributed to negative experiences. At the organizational level, we identified considerations for assessments and the ED and the hospital (wait times, staffing issues, and the physical space). At the community level, the environment of IYS and other community services were important including wait times and hours of operation. Policy level factors identified include inadequate communication between services (e.g., different charting systems and documentation). Conclusions This study provides insight into important long-term systemic issues and more immediate factors that need to be addressed to improve the delivery of care for young people with MHSU challenges. This research supports intervention development and implementation in the ED for young people with MHSU concerns.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)