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The Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions acknowledges the need to better support the community mental health sector around substance use and addictions. We interviewed 113 individuals (leaders, service providers, young people, and families) to gain insight into the current state of work in the sector. These individuals represented a variety of organizations and sectors that interact with substance use and addictions services in Ontario.

Participants shared that there is separation of mental health and substance use and addictions services. Leaders and service providers reported feeling ill-equipped to address growing concurrent mental health and substance use and addictions needs among children and young people due to insufficient funding, restrictive policies and mandates, and a lack of resources to provide front-line staff with continued education. We also heard about the need for identity-affirming, youth-centered care that acknowledges and respects the unique experiences and backgrounds of young people and their families. Participants emphasized the lack of appropriate addiction and concurrent services for young people, especially those under 12 and in the 18-25 age group. Despite these challenges, there are innovative initiatives prioritizing collaboration and partnerships that are making positive impacts throughout the province.

This workshop will open with a presentation on the interview methods and findings, focusing on themes relevant to quality, equity, and access. A system leader and person with lived experience will then discuss implications of this work from personal, contextual, and system-level perspectives, including next steps for research and knowledge mobilization to support the sector.


Alexandra Tucci, MA, is a Research Assistant at the Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions. She assists with mobilizing research findings and developing evidence products for the Knowledge Institute’s focus area on substance use and addictions. Alexandra also provides support for the development of quality standards.

Gabrielle Lucente, MA, is a Research Coordinator at the Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions. She is certified in Knowledge Mobilization and has worked on various research projects aimed at improving quality of care, including opportunities for cross-sectoral collaboration, advancing racial equity, diversity and inclusion, development of quality standards and substance use and addictions.

Dr. Amy Porath is the Director of Research and Knowledge Mobilization at the Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions. In this role, she leads efforts to identify and respond to the knowledge needs of the child and youth mental health and addictions sector and others who shape policy and practice in this area. This includes advancing and mobilizing knowledge through applied research initiatives and the development of knowledge products and quality standards. For the past 22 years, Amy’s program of research and knowledge mobilization has focused on substance use health and addictions with the view to advancing policy, practice and programs.

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