Improving mental health care for community youth

Artwork by Gaurav S, a youth participant of the ACCESS Open Minds program at CLSC Park-Extension.
Artwork by Gaurav S, a youth participant of the ACCESS Open Minds program at CLSC Park-Extension.

ACCESS Open Minds opens doors at CLSC Park-Extension

CLSC Park-Extension joined a cross-Canada program that provides engaging and non-stigmatizing mental health care to community youths.

ACCESS Open Minds is an innovative mental healthcare model that offers young people faster and more youth-friendly access to a wide array of services in the places they frequent. The program assesses the youths’ needs based on the geographic, cultural and sociodemographic contexts in which they live. That way, a youth in distress can be directed, without delays or interruption, to the most situation-appropriate mental health resources available. These can range from minimal psychological or social intervention, to specialized care.

In the coming months, the Park-Extension Open Minds team of social workers, psychologists, researchers and clinicians will work toward improving care in their multi-ethnic neighbourhood by strengthening collaboration between schools, community-based organizations and the healthcare system. The program also encourages involvement from families and carers, providing education and support when needed.

The October 17 launch of ACCESS Open Minds Park-Extension, in collaboration with the CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, was hosted by one of the youths who participates in the program at the CLSC. Guests were treated to a rap performance, and a gallery of artwork and huge fresco created during workshops, all by Park-Extension community youths.

Dr. Cécile Rousseau, the Scientific Director of SHERPA, was instrumental in bringing the program to CLSC Park-Extension, the first site in Quebec to incorporate the program into their mental health youth services. Also in attendance was the Open Minds Principal Investigator, Dr. Ashok Malla, a Professor at the McGill University Department of Psychiatry and Canada Research Chair in Early Psychosis.

Learn more about the ACCESS Open Minds program, which was launched under CIHR’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, at