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Keywords:

  • adolescent;
  • anxiety disorder;
  • delivery of health care;
  • mood disorder;
  • programme evaluation

Abstract

Aim: Mood and anxiety disorders typically begin during adolescence or early adulthood. Yet services targeting this population are frequently lacking. This study implemented an outreach, access and assessment programme for youth with these concerns. The data reported constitute an evaluation of this mental healthcare delivery approach.

Methods: This evaluation included specification of both programme and implementation theories through causal and programme logic models and formative (process) evaluation. Outreach focused on access points for youth such as schools and family physicians' offices. Concerned youth were encouraged to self-refer. Participants completed a semi-structured clinical interview and symptom and function questionnaire package.

Results: Engagement sessions were conducted and results involved 93 youth. The majority of youth self-referred, a process not possible in traditional physician-referral healthcare systems. Interestingly, almost half had received prior treatment and over half had tried a psychiatric medication. Yet participants had significant symptomatology: 81% reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms; 95% reported high levels of trait-anxiety. Functional impairment was substantial: on average, participants missed 2.6 days of school/work and functioned at reduced levels on 4.2 days in the week prior to assessment. Demographic details are presented.

Conclusion: This study evaluated a mental healthcare delivery system that identified individuals with significant distress and functional impairment from mood/anxiety concerns and previous unsuccessful treatment attempts, verifying that they were in need of mental health services. This approach provides a model for outreach and assessment in this population, where earlier intervention has the potential to prevent chronic mental illness and disability.