About ACCESS Open Minds

What is ACCESS Open Minds?

Adolescent/young adult,
Connections to
Community-driven,
Early,
Strengths-based and
Stigma-free services

Download the ACCESS Open Minds Project Overview for a summary of the project.

The ACCESS Open Minds  project is developing, testing, and evaluating a new, evidence-informed framework for youth mental health care in Canada.

There are 14 ACCESS OM sites in 6 provinces and 1 territory across Canada. Facilitated by ACCESS OM, these sites have transformed their existing youth mental health services in based on local strengths, context and needs with service transformations based on 5 key objectives where traditional youth mental health services have typically fallen short.
ACCESS services provide a direct entry-point to an initial mental health assessment within 72 hours of help seeking by youth aged 11-25, followed by access to appropriate needs-based services within 30 days where possible. While receiving ACCESS services, youth are considered partners in their own care, and family members and carers are also engaged and supported.

About transformed services

At ACCESS sites, every door is the right door for youth. Youth can drop-in, call or connect online to access services without a referral from a physician. A concerned family member, friend, school counselor or supporter can also get in touch to have someone reach out to a young person that they are worried about. Youth (11-25) are offered an initial mental health assessment within 72 hours of help seeking, followed by access to appropriate needs-based services within 30 days where possible.

Through a structured, asset/strengths based planning process, each ACCESS site has approached transforming their services based on their own unique contexts, strengths and needs.

A common element across all sites to support direct access for youth within 72 hours is the addition of ACCESS Clinicians or ACCESS Youth Workers.

ACCESS Clinicians:

Each ACCESS site has at least one ACCESS Clinician in place; these registered professionals (social worker, psychologist, occupational therapist, nurse) from mental health backgrounds are dedicated to conducting mental health assessments within 72 hours of help seeking by youth, and providing support to youth while they await access to specialized service (if required). They are flexible and youth-friendly, and can meet youth on there terms, outside of the service space.

ACCESS Youth Workers:

ACCESS sites located in the Arctic are employing ACCESS Youth Workers instead of ACCESS Clinicians. The ACCESS Youth Workers (based on a lay health worker model) are trained community members who provide information about mental health to youth, their family member/carers and the community at large. They also meet with youth directly if something might be wrong, and support youth and their families after returning home after receiving services outside of the community (e.g. hospital in the south).