Uniting to Connect Innovative Technology for Youth Mental Health and Addictions Services

Across the Maritimes young people experiencing mental health issues encounter significant wait times for services. Long wait times may contribute to negative health outcomes as well as decreased appointment attendance and treatment engagement. Nova Scotia is one of the only provinces or territories in Canada that tracks and publicly reports data on wait times for mental health and addictions services (MHA). Improving access to mental health and addictions services and reducing wait times are priorities for the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, the IWK Health Centre and the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA).

Interventions to support families during the pre-appointment and post-referral time period are understudied in mental health research. eHealth technologies have been successfully used in other health contexts to deliver tailored information, manage clients’ expectations about appointments, provide appointment reminders, and encourage and empower clients to try evidence-informed strategies while waiting.

About the project

eHealth technologies and their role in youth mental health and addictions was identified as a priority health topic for discussion at the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU) Nova Scotia Bridge Event in June 2018. Following on these initial discussions, a team of decision-makers, clinicians, researchers, and patient advisors was formed to undertake the Uniting to Connect Innovative Technology for Youth Mental Health and Addictions Services (UniCITY) research project.

UniCITY aims to mobilize research into service delivery planning, inform new health policy, and build capacity for research funding competitiveness.

Part 1: Scoping Review

A scoping review was conducted to examine the evidence-base for text-messaging in mental health and addictions services for children and youth.

Part 2: Participatory Asset Map

An asset map to capture and share information on eMental health programs, tools, resources and services available to children and youth in Nova Scotia.

Project leads

  • Dr. Lori Wozney, Health Outcomes Scientist, Mental Health and Addictions, Policy and Planning, Nova Scotia Health
  • Maureen Brennan, Director, Mental Health and Addictions Program, IWK Health
  • Ruth Harding, Director Policy and Planning, Mental Health and Addictions, Nova Scotia Health
  • Roberta Hibbert, Patient Partner
  • Rita MacAulay, Health Promotion Coordinator, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness