What is the system challenge?

In the Windsor-Essex community, it hasn’t always been easy for youth with concurrent disorders, their families, and addiction and mental health service providers to access the services and supports they need due to barriers in the system and a lack of clear pathways to these services.

Not only is there a lack of system understanding among both service providers and the youth needing these services, but there is also a lack of capacity or ability to treat concurrent disorders.

In Windsor-Essex, youth also face significant obstacles to fair and equitable service access. Factors including language, gender, race, sexual orientation and education level can impact a young person’s ability to access necessary services.

What are we doing about it?

To better understand the gaps and barriers to service for youth with concurrent disorders, the Provincial System Support Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health supported the Windsor-Essex Service Collaborative to carry out a system mapping exercise. This activity involved a thorough review of the Windsor-Essex mental health and addiction system, which was captured in a report that identifies and describes relevant services available to support youth in the region.

To address local knowledge and capacity gaps, the Service Collaborative hosted a number of learning, networking, and engagement opportunities covering youth mental health, addictions, and concurrent disorders.

  • A two-day cross-sectoral seminar helped stakeholders learn about the issues experienced by youth; learn how to better connect youth with available services and supports; and build relationships to improve collaboration across the system.
  • Local service providers were offered training to become licensed to use the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs – Short Screener (GAIN SS), an evidence-based screening tool for enhancing local ability to identify individuals with mental health and/or addictions-related needs who require immediate response, further assessment, and/or referral to services.
  • Local providers were also given the opportunity to attend training to enhance their understanding of the principles of adult learning.
  • To increase youth involvement and engagement in the mental health and addictions sector in Windsor-Essex, a team of youth produced a “Zine” – a creative booklet in a youth-friendly format that shares the findings of a youth consultation on mental health services. This process was facilitated by the national youth mental health program mindyourmind.
?What's this?

Full Implementation

To sustain and best apply the enhanced local capacity in the areas of youth mental health, addictions, and concurrent disorders, Service Collaborative partners helped link local training needs to trainers through a training committee. Trainers were provided training to enhance their understanding of the principles of adult learning.

How do we know it works?

> 100

local providers are licensed to use the GAIN SS

> 140

service providers attended the Learning Across Sectors Workshop in November 2015

Who is involved?

The Collaborative involved more than 60 active members from the justice, education, children and adult mental health and addiction sectors, and included a very strong representation from parents.

Next Steps

The Windsor-Essex Service Collaborative’s work was completed following the development of the system map that now identifies and describes all local services for youth with mental health and addictions needs, as well the trainings to increase knowledge and capacity to support the needs of these youth and their families.


Learning Across Sectors: Integrated Training in Youth Mental Health, Addictions and Concurrent Disorders (summary)

For more information, please contact

Beth Powell, Implementation Specialist