About ACCESS Open Minds

What is ACCESS Open Minds?

What is ACCESS Open Minds?

Jointly funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and Graham Boeckh Foundation (GBF) ACCESS Open Minds is a pan-Canadian network that is improving youth mental health services and understanding their impact in diverse communities from coast to coast to coast. There are currently 16 ACCESS Open Minds sites operating in 7 provinces and 1 territory across Canada.

The ACCESS Approach: Years in the making, built with youth, families and experts from across Canada

Developed with diverse youth, families, service providers, researchers and policy makers, the ACCESS Open Minds approach builds on local strengths along with youth, family and community engagement to improve mental health services for youth. Locally built, each ACCESS Open Minds site looks a little different but they are united by standard service and evaluation components (called the ACCESS OM Service and Evaluation Frameworks) that work together to ensure that services are best meeting the needs of their community.

ACCESS OM Service Framework was developed by the ACCESS OM Network and is based on where services usually fail youth and their families in their time of need. The ACCESS OM Service Framework has the following parts:

  1. Early Identification: youth in need get help as soon as possible; youth and families know where they can get help
  2. Rapid Access: help is offered right away & can be accessed through multiple ways (walk-in, phone, email)
  3. Appropriate Care: youth and their families are connected to the right services for them and are fully supported until they receive the right care
  4. Services are for anyone 11-25: no age cut-offs at 18
  5. Youth and Family Engagement: Youth and families/carers are engaged in the design of services and are partners in their own care
  6. Continuous evaluation: evaluation is integrated into services to understand their impact, respond to community needs and to inform return on investment


The ACCESS Open Minds Service and Evaluation Frameworks and related benchmarks have been adopted by many other youth initiatives and are currently the only standard approaches that exist nationally in Canada.  

To learn more about ACCESS OM watch this short video:

Why is this sort of initiative important? 

We have a lot of information and evidence about the problems related to youth mental health, but we don’t know nearly as much about what approaches work to best mental health needs, especially for youth in Canada. The research generated by ACCESS Open Minds aims to help to fill this gap in knowledge, so that future generations of Canadian youth will have better access to the right kinds of help.

Service Delivery

The ACCESS Open Minds service delivery framework builds on existing youth mental health services to provide direct access to mental health assessments to youth seeking help. This framework includes staffing roles (such as clinicians, lay health workers, peer supporters), as well as service components (such as early identification activities and land-based programming) to engage youth, their families and carers, as well as community members in the delivery of youth mental health services.


Click here to learn more about Service Delivery within the ACCESS Open Minds project

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