Addressing the mental health & addiction needs of children and youth during the COVID‑19 pandemic: Using real-time community and hospital data to identify, forecast, and meet their needs

Lowe, Joanne | $140,442

Ontario Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

Children and youth have suffered stressful and traumatic events during the COVID‑19 pandemic and been disproportionately affected by public health mitigation measures. Mental health and addiction (MHA) services must adapt, and require timely information about the needs of children and youth to provide the best possible care during the pandemic and beyond. is a new initiative of the Kids Come First Health Team to make it easier for children, youth, and families across Eastern Ontario to find the MHA care that’s right for them, when they need it. As part of routine intake assessment, is the only initiative of its kind to capture real-time data on community and hospital-based MHA service needs. We propose to use data from to identify and predict child and youth MHA needs, so that service providers can tailor their programs accordingly. Our objectives are to: 1.Describe the MHA needs of children and youth contacting and to identify inequities to accessing appropriate MHA care. 2.Share information about the volume and severity of child and youth MHA with service providers 3.Predict future MHA needs and plan for community and hospital-based MHA services. 4.Determine whether this information helps MHA organizations to tailor their services and meet client needs. We will conduct a 15-month cohort study of children and youth contacting between May 31, 2021 to Sep 1, 2022 (estimated to be more than 6,000 families). We will use routinely-captured data (demographics, MHA screening tools) from their intake assessment to describe their MHA needs, develop a weekly dashboard to describe service needs, and predict MHA services or the next three and six months. Through this research, we will identify, predict, and address the MHA needs of children and youth during the pandemic and beyond. We have partnerships in place to share our results broadly, to the benefit of chidren, youth, and families across Canada.

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