ACCESS Open Minds: Youth mental health – Ulukhaktok

Area of Research: 
Health promotion
Health services & systems
Mental health and addiction


To transform mental health services for youth aged 11–25 in Ulukhaktok, and to evaluate the impact of these services.


The research team will reach it's objective by culturally adapting and applying evidence-based strategies, training local staff to take ownership of and provide leadership for the project, and maximizing the collaboration and engagement of youth, family members, community members, service providers from all sectors, and policy-makers. Among other objectives, we seek to reduce the stigma often associated with mental health problems, and identify – as early as possible – youth in distress.

As stated, ACCESS is mainly about the implementation of interventions to transform youth mental health services. However, it is also a research project, co-funded by Canada’s leading funder of health research. As such, the team will invite all youth who make use of the ACCESS services to sign a consent form (or, in the case of minors, get parental consent and sign an assent form) and to complete a series of 7 brief self-administered scales/questionnaires. (For those who need help to complete the scales, this will be provided by site team members.) The scales are standard ones used in psychiatry internationally and are GAIN-SS, OPOC-Youth, ORS, SRS, K-10, SRH+MH, and YES-MH. All will be administered at the start of the research program, and some will be re-administered at 3 months, 6 months, etc. For family members/carers, 2 scales will be used: OPOC-Families and FES. As well, the service providers (e.g. nurse, community counselor, social worker) will be asked to complete 4 scales at the beginning and at various other points during treatment: SOFAS, CUAD, CGI, and C-SSRS. Please note: These scales will be administered using paper and pencil at first, but by the end of 2016, ACCESS expects that a tablet version will be available. At that time, responses will be entered directly into the tablet, uploaded to research staff the ACCESS Central at the Douglas Hospital for entry and analysis. Aggregated, anonymized results will then be compiled and shared with the local site team.

ACCESS Open Minds-Ulukhaktok is a community-based intervention research project with several key opportunities for community engagement and involvement of local people. The research team hopes to engage as many people from as many sectors in the community in helping to plan the interventions. The team will the train a casual ACCESS Liaison Worker to work throughout the 4 years of the project, performing community outreach and educational roles to help de-stigmatize youth mental health issues and promote early help-seeking and effective follow-up and after-care. As well, youth peer workers and family peer workers will be hired to offer support to youth and families experiencing mental health difficulties.

Knowledge sharing is a major objective of this work, within Ulukhaktok itself, within the ACCESS Network sites, and more broadly with service providers and researchers in Canada and abroad. In past projects in the region, the research team has used radio shows, posters, community suppers, and regular emailed project updates to keep everyone in the community informed. For a wider audience in the NWT, the research team will share Updates with key staff and decision-makers in Inuvik and Yellowknife, etc.

The fieldwork for this study was conducted from June 28, 2017, to December 31, 2017.