Mental health

Current and Completed Projects:

Development of a tool to support implementation of the Post-Secondary Student Standard

In response to growing concerns about mental health issues faced by students in post-secondary education (PSE), colleges, universities, CÉGEPs, and polytechnics in Canada are undertaking various initiatives, including direct services, programs, or institutional policies; others are at earlier stages of addressing the issue. To provide the PSE sector with guidance on how to consider and address student mental health, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, in collaboration with CSA Group (as the standards development organization), has championed the development of the CSA Z2003:20 Mental health and well-being for post-secondary students standard, expected to be publicly available in 2020. SRDC has been engaged to develop a self-assessment tool intended to help post-secondary institutions identify achievements made to date, as well as gaps and opportunities for further action. Information collected through the confidential online tool will also help inform what implementation of this voluntary standard looks like across the sector, to pave the way for evaluating its effects on PSE institutions and students.

Start-end date: May 2020 - March 2021
Sponsor: Mental Health Commission of Canada

Employment Supports for Youth with Barriers to Employment

BC’s health research funding agency – the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research – has commissioned SRDC to conduct a targeted evidence synthesis on best practices for employment supports – pre-employment and ongoing – for youth aged 14 to 29 with mental health and/or substance use issues. This includes an environmental scan and literature review to document and collate what is known about best and promising practices in the field and the overall landscape of current activity in Canada and three international jurisdictions. Phase 2 will consist of a knowledge synthesis and articulating implications for policy and service delivery in BC. Through a cross-Ministry Working Group on Children and Youth with Special Needs, this work will inform policy development and service delivery planning to better support youth and their families in BC.

Start-end date: May 2020 - January 2021
Sponsor: Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research

Guidance for workplace policy on substance use impairment

Ensuring employee well-being and workplace health is essential to developing successful, safe organizations across all industries and work settings. Canadian employers are seeking resources to support development of effective policies to address impairment and, in particular, that ensure employees affected by substance use issues get the help and support they need, but also that workplaces remain safe, employees’ health and privacy are protected, costs are contained, and any other potential negative outcomes are prevented. In response, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) has engaged SRDC to conduct a review of the latest research and best practices in workplace policy regarding impairment and substance use. The resulting technical report will outline what is known about best practices – including in emerging areas such as peer support and harm reduction – and in turn, support CCSA in guiding employers and other workplace stakeholders as they develop workplace policies on substance use impairment.

Start-end date: December 2019 - March 2020
Sponsor: Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Evaluation planning support for a new Standard for Psychological Health and Safety of Post-Secondary Students in Canada

In the past ten years, youth mental health – and particularly, student mental health – has become a pressing policy issue. Post-secondary students can experience a wide range of challenges and mental health issues as a result of their exposure to both acute and chronic. With funding support from Bell Let's Talk, The Rossy Foundation, the RBC Foundation, and Health Canada, the Mental Health Commission of Canada has partnered with the CSA Group to develop this new Standard that would provide guidance to Canadian post-secondary institutions in developing psychologically safe and healthy environments for their students. The Standard will provide a best practice framework for colleges, universities, polytechnics, and cégeps to assess hazards, manage risks, and promote improved student mental health. SRDC will work with project partners to establish the purpose, scope, and focus of an evaluation of the new Standard, expected to be released in early 2020.

Start-end date: May 2019 - March 2020
Sponsor: Mental Health Commission of Canada

Healthy Transitions From High School: impact evaluation

This project builds on a highly successful collaboration with School Mental Health ASSIST and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), to support mental health promotion in high school. Classroom resources aim to develop the social emotional learning skills students need to promote and protect their mental health, and to navigate the transition from high school. These resources – together with teacher training and support – proved promising in a recent pilot test, and are now being evaluated in a rigorous trial in dozens of Ontario schools. Results of this impact evaluation will support educators as they plan and implement student mental health promotion initiatives at the classroom, school, and board levels.

Start-end date: June 2018 - August 2021
Sponsor: Anonymous sponsor + School Mental Health ASSIST

Evaluation of RAJO: The Somali youth and family empowerment project

RAJO is the Somali word for hope, and the name of a culturally-responsive, multi-agency project aimed at reducing violence and increasing resilience in Somali-Canadian youth, families, and communities in Ottawa and Edmonton. Project staff will work with Somali youth and families using a tiered intervention model called Trauma Systems Therapy that has been adapted for refugee communities in the US by Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) – this is the first time TST-R will be delivered in Canada, and to youth aged 12-18. Funded by Public Safety Canada, this five-year project is being led by Canadian Friends of Somalia, in collaboration with the Somali-Canadian Culture Society of Edmonton, and BCH; SRDC has been engaged as the evaluation partner.

Start-end date: November 2017 - March 2022
Sponsor: Canadian Friends of Somalia

Employer tools for workplace mental health

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has been leading efforts to establish a mentally healthy workplace culture in Canada, starting with the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. There are many resources to help employers implement the Standard and support workplace mental health more generally, but these may be difficult to locate and use. MHCC is leading an initiative to develop a free, online, bilingual electronic tool to bring these resources together and make them easy for employers to use. SRDC has been engaged to conduct a curated inventory of relevant resources, advise on current gaps, and to provide recommendations on how to address these.

Start-end date: January 2017 - March 2017
Sponsor: Mental Health Commission of Canada

Development of a "How To" Guide for Integrated Mental Health and Substance Use Services for Youth and Young Adults

Only a small proportion of youth with mental health and substance use disorders actually receive treatment, in part because services designed for adults are neither accessible nor appropriate. This “How To” guide is intended to support the Provincial and Territorial Working Group and other policy makers in understanding how to create enabling environments for the development of integrated MHSU services for youth and young adults. To develop this guide, SRDC is collecting information via interviews and surveys on program exemplars in six different provinces, and work closely with the BC Ministry of Health MHSU Branch and members of the P/T WG members.

Start-end date: July 2016 - March 2017
Sponsor: British Columbia Ministry of Health

MHFA for Members of the Veteran Community – Project Evaluation – Phase 2

SRDC was engaged by the Mental Health Commission of Canada to evaluate the second phase of the adaptation of the Mental Health First Aid course for members of the veteran community. Results of this formative evaluation informed the program adaptation for its launch in the fall of 2016.

Start-end date: May 2016 - August 2016
Sponsor: Mental Health Commission of Canada

MHFA for Members of the Veteran Community – Project Evaluation

MHFA is an evidence-based training course designed to increase mental health literacy, decrease stigma, and increase helping behaviours. In collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Mental Health Commission of Canada is adapting MHFA for members of the Veteran Community, to improve their capacity to address mental health problems and illnesses. To support this process, SRDC was engaged to evaluate the design and pilot delivery of the adapted course, prior to broader delivery. As part of this formative evaluation, SRDC conducted a document review, interviewed stakeholders, and observed the initial pilot training sessions; a framework for future evaluation work was also developed.

Start-end date: January 2016 - March 2016
Sponsor: Mental Health Commission of Canada

Mental Health First Aid Inuit Program Evaluation — Phase 2

SRDC was engaged by the Mental Health Commission of Canada to evaluate the second phase of the adaptation of the Mental Health First Aid course for Inuit, using cultural safety principles. Results of this formative evaluation were used to finalize the program adaptation and prepare for its launch in the spring of 2016.

Start-end date: November 2015 - March 2016
Sponsor: Mental Health Commission of Canada

Mental Health First Aid Canada: Inuit Course Framework and Evaluation

Like first aid for physical injury, Mental Health First Aid is designed to provide immediate help to a person experiencing distress or crisis until professional assistance is provided or the crisis is over. Mental Health First Aid is an evidence-based course that increases mental health literacy, decreases stigma, and increases helping behaviours. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has adapted the basic course for many special populations, and together with Inuit communities and organizations, is developing an adaptation for Inuit. SRDC was engaged to conduct a formative evaluation of the first stage of the adapted program, using cultural safety principles. Results help to guide subsequent iterations of the course.

Start-end date: January 2015 - June 2015
Sponsor: Mental Health Commission of Canada

Healthy Transitions from High School — A mental health promotion and prevention initiative: Pilot Phase

This project pilot tests and refines curriculum resources designed to help students develop the social, emotional and learning skills needed to navigate the transition from high school. It builds on earlier phases of background research and program development, and includes two components: 1) evaluate the adoption, delivery, and potential effectiveness of the resources in a pilot test in a small group of Ontario high schools and 2) consultations with educators, youth, and mental health experts to fine-tune the resources and prepare for their potential delivery in a greater number of schools. As with earlier phases, this project is conducted in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Ontario School Mental Health ASSIST team.

Start-end date: December 2014 - September 2017
Sponsor: Carthy Foundation + School Mental Health ASSIST

Provincial and Territorial Engagement on Mental Health Issues

To support the MHCC in its preparations for a series of deliberative dialogues with P/T stakeholders about advancing Changing Directions, Changing Lives: the Mental Health Strategy for Canada, SRDC conducted background research and analysis on the mental health policy landscape in each of the 13 provinces and territories.

Start-end date: June 2014 - October 2014
Sponsor: Mental Health Commission of Canada

UpSkill Health and Mental Health Outcomes Study

This project is a sub-study of the original UpSkill project, which used an experimental design to evaluate the impact of workplace Literacy and Essential Skills (LES) training on individuals and firms in the tourism accommodations sector. This sub-study conducts an in-depth analysis of how literacy influences health and mental health for both workers and firms, using the considerable data collected through UpSkill. The study identifies the potential of non-health interventions such as LES training to improve population health.

Start-end date: January 2014 - September 2015
Sponsor: Public Health Agency of Canada

Design phase: Promoting mental health for youth through transitions

Building on an earlier phase of background research into student mental health issues, this project aims to design an intervention to support students through the transition from high school. SRDC met with potential collaborators, finalized the conceptual framework, developed an intervention/ delivery model and curriculum outline, developed an evaluation plan, and identified potential funders for a subsequent pilot test. SRDC also consulted with youth on design and delivery, and engaged experts as required to ensure the feasibility, scalability, innovation, and appeal of the intervention to high school students. The result is a detailed proposal to a funder to implement and test the program on a pilot basis, to learn what works to promote and protect student mental health.

Start-end date: September 2013 - June 2014
Sponsor: Carthy Foundation

Moving on Mental Health – Toronto Implementation Panel

Working with the Ministry and sector stakeholder groups to develop a report that outlines options and recommendations for system reform consistent with Moving on Mental Health, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services policy framework for child and youth mental Health (A Shared Responsibility).

Start-end date: April 2013 - October 2013
Sponsor: Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services

Learning how to promote youth mental health through the transition from high school

With youth mental health rapidly emerging as a public policy priority, this project examines the needs of students as they make the transition from high school to post-secondary education or work. It aims to develop a plan for an intervention that will help improve students’ mental health literacy, so they are better equipped to recognize potential problems, develop effective coping strategies, and know how to use resources to promote and protect their mental health. The project involves a review of the relevant research literature, an environmental scan of existing programs, and interviews with key stakeholders, as background research to designing a potential intervention.

Start-end date: August 2012 - December 2012
Sponsor: Carthy Foundation

Mental Illness as a Disability over the Life Course in Canada

This project examines mental illness experiences over the life course, among the full spectrum of Canadians from very young children through senior adults. It uses secondary data from the 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) data set and from the 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to investigate the prevalence and characteristics of mental illness as a disability among each age group.

Start-end date: November 2011 - March 2012
Sponsor: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada