The Bell Youth Mental Health IMPACT Project

A generous $1 million gift from Bell will enable researchers from the University of British Columbia to conduct mental health outreach to youth in need.

The Bell Youth Mental Health IMPACT Project will be led by Psychiatry Professor Michael Krausz, who is also the UBC-Providence Leading Edge Endowment Fund (LEEF) Chair in Addiction Research, at the Institute of Mental Health, part of UBC’s Faculty of Medicine.

“Despite the high prevalence of anxiety and depression, especially among those in late adolescence and early adulthood, the proportion of people who actually receive treatment in time is quite low,” said Dr. Krausz, an expert in epidemiology and public health.

“Too often, their first opportunity to access care results from an encounter with police or a trip to the emergency room. Enabling young adults to get help early will reduce the chances that their condition will lead to substance abuse or attempts at suicide,” Dr. Krausz added.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with UBC on this project which will use the latest technology to help young people suffering from mental illness have better access to care,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of the Bell Let’s Talk mental health initiative.

“The Bell Youth Mental Health IMPACT Project fits perfectly with the Bell Let’s Talk initiative and is another example of Bell partnering with leading institutions across the country, like UBC, who are looking for innovative ways to broaden the scope of work that they do to address mental health throughout our communities.”

As part of the project, researchers will develop a mental health web portal that provides educational and self-assessment tools, automated feedback, a list of treatment options, advice on obtaining services, and coping techniques. Additional features, such as online consultations through e-mail, chat rooms, video-conferencing, instant messaging and social media tools, will be added in the future based on research into the effectiveness of this outreach model.

At first, the project will focus on underserved communities and involve partnerships with primary care physicians, school counsellors, police and family organizations to facilitate use of the platform by those who need it. Insights from these pilot studies will be used to develop a province-wide mental health web portal.

The project will leverage the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s experience in creating a sophisticated, robust communications network for its distributed medical education program, which encompasses four academic campuses and about 20 clinical sites around the province. The UBC Institute of Mental Health is home to a community of clinicians and scientists who are fully committed to re-examining the field of mental health and mental illness, and to seeking new insights into the diagnosis and treatment of some of the most challenging issues in modern medicine.

The Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health Initiative is a $50-million, multi-year charitable program that promotes mental health across Canada based on four key pillars: anti-stigma, care and access, research, and workplace best practices. It’s the largest-ever corporate investment in mental health in Canada.

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