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Access to mental health care is often complicated due to factors including income, geography and social determinants of health. These barriers can lead to inequitable care access and health outcomes for infants, children and young people. Research shows that 35% of mental health problems have their onset before age 14. However, addressing these issues early can prevent them from worsening into adulthood, minimize risk factors and maximize protective ones. The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the extent to which families are impacted by lack of accessible and available mental health services. A collective, cross-sector approach is necessary to ensure families are matched with the appropriate care. Integrated care pathways help service providers and families by taking the guesswork out of what supports are available and how to access them.

This session will present the ongoing work from our initiatives focused on care pathways to support mental health service provision for infants, children, young people and their families across Ontario. We will discuss our collaborative partnerships to realize an integrated system of care between primary care, education and community-based service sectors to better improve service coordination, build community capacity and put infants, children, young people and families at the center of care. In this presentation, we will talk about our lessons learned, and the barriers and facilitators that advance the implementation of care pathways to streamline transitions between sectors, ensuring families get the help that meets their needs, in the right place at the right time.


Amanda Davis (BA, MA) is a Research Coordinator at the Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions. Her work involves the development and mobilization of evidence-based knowledge to support the needs of the child and youth mental health and addictions sector across Ontario. Amanda currently supports several initiatives focused on implementing cross-sector, coordinated mental health care pathways. Prior to joining the Knowledge Institute, Amanda worked at Alberta Health Services in the areas of population, public and Indigenous health research, evaluation and knowledge mobilization.

Nikky Summers (MA, DPE) is the Manager of Knowledge Mobilization at the Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions, which is hosted by the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Nikky has long brought her passion for evaluation, engagement, and knowledge mobilization to her work, in roles both in research and community engagement. She has primarily worked in, and extensively studied, the area of mental health in children and youth with a key interest in the impacts of social support, such as family and friendships.

Purnima Sundar (PhD) is the Executive Director at the Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions, and Adjunct Research Professor in Social Work at Carleton University. With 25 years of experience doing community-based research, evaluation, implementation and KMb in child and youth mental health and race/equity, Purnima sets the vision and strategy for the Knowledge Institute. Since joining the Knowledge Institute in 2008, Purnima has worked with government partners across ministries, agency leaders, and young people and their families across the province to ensure high quality, evidence-based mental health service delivery for Ontario’s children and young people.

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