About ACCESS Open Minds

What is ACCESS Open Minds?

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

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

Youth in many Canadian communities have a hard time getting the right mental health care for them. The wait can be long, the path to help can be complex, and services are rarely tailored to fit their distinct needs. And yet, it has been proven that the sooner a mental health problem is identified and treated, the better a young person’s future is likely to be.


The ACCESS Open Minds research and evaluation project is developing, testing, and evaluating a new, evidence-informed, scalable framework of care at different sites across Canada, with the intention of giving youth aged 11 to 25 years faster access to services designed specifically for them, with them. Along with families and carers, they are involved in every aspect of ACCESS Open Minds, from the design and evaluation of services, to the creation of content for the website.

Rapid, direct, collaborative

The ACCESS Open Minds network is building on the strengths of existing resources and transforming them — not setting up parallel mental health care systems. ACCESS Open Minds aims to provide faster, more engaging access to appropriate services to a greater number of youth experiencing a mental health con


To do so, each site is dedicating at least one specially trained ACCESS clinician (in most cases, a social worker, psychologist, occupational therapist or nurse) to conduct an initial mental health assessment within 72 hours from when a young person or the people who care for them reaches out for help. Youth do not need a referral from a physician; they may be directed to ACCESS Open Minds by a school counselor, an outreach worker, or a concerned neighbour. Every door is the right door to receive care. If needed, the ACCESS clinician will connect the young person and their family/carer to high-quality, youth-friendly services in a timely fashion. In certain remote locations, a lay health worker model is being implemented and evaluated to meet the needs of youth who might not have immediate access to an evaluating clinician.