Victoria Doctors Team-up to Improve Child and Youth Mental Health Care

Dr. Adriana Condello identified a care-gap for children and youth with acute mental health needs that lack a family doctor. Dr. Condello and her colleagues, Dr. Claudia Zuin and Dr. Heather Robertson, brought together a group of pediatricians, pediatric psychiatrists, early intervention program team members, family physicians and nurse practitioners to collaborate. This was made possible by funding from the South Island Medical Staff Association and Island Health. Dr. Condello and her team agreed that early identification and intervention using a shared-care approach could reduce long-term health care costs in caring for this population.

Multiple engagement sessions with School District 61 (Victoria) were held to identify future methods of collaboration. It was agreed that a clinic located within a middle school and close to an elementary school would be an ideal location for this shared work. Children at risk of behavioural, developmental or mental health issues identified by school staff would be forwarded to the clinic for further evaluation with guardians’ consent. A team-based approach with wrap around services that included a family physician/nurse practitioner, family liaison/system navigator, social worker, school staff liaison, school based allied therapists, pediatricians and consulting child psychiatrist would be required to address the health and educational needs of the identified children. This pilot project has found a home at Shoreline Middle School, which has undergone some renovations.

Deborah Chaplain, Island Health’s Director of Child, Youth, and Family Health, has been supporting the clinic’s development while Island Health Public Health staff have also been integral to the success of the clinic. This pilot project shows the benefits of collaboration between physicians, nurse practitioners, School District 61 and Island Health. Project leaders are optimistic about the future of this clinic and look forward to helping improve the care-gap for children and youth.