Mental health

Current and Completed Projects:

A Tri-Cities Wrap Around Model of Care to Maternal Mental Health in Immigrants

This project aims to enhance the capacity of service providers and organizations to promote mental health in safe, effective and trauma-informed ways, and to implement a coordinated model of care that would promote mental health and prevent mental illness in postpartum immigrant women and their families. This project will deliver an adapted model of intervention by enhancing referral processes from family physicians / maternity clinics and midwives to community supports, such as early years service providers and where needed to more specialized mental health supports, and by strengthening the capacity of service providers to support postpartum women and their families on improving mental health. SRDC is the learning partner responsible for conducting an evaluation of the project. The evaluation will aim to measure the impact of project activities on service providers’ knowledge and capacity to promote culturally appropriate mental health services; families’ awareness of the importance of mental health; and the accessibility of mental health supports and services for immigrant families with children 0-6.

Start-end date: November 2022 - March 2024
Sponsor: S.U.C.C.E.S.S.

Evidence Review and Mental Health Pilot Community Consultation for Girls' Fund Programs

The Girls’ Fund supports programs that give girls and gender-diverse youth tools to develop into confident, resilient people, right when they need this support most. In preparation for the next Girls’ Fund cohort, The Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF) has commissioned an update of the evidence informing Girls’ Fund programming for adolescent girls and gender-diverse youth. Based on needs identified stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, CWF is also engaging with community organizations to understand their experiences with anti-oppressive mental health approaches for children and youth, in preparation for designing and implementing an anti-oppressive mental health pilot in Girls’ Fund programming.

Start-end date: September 2022 - March 2023
Sponsor: Canadian Women’s Foundation

Reducing apprentice drug use in the skilled trades: Best practices for safe Canadian workplaces

The goal of this project is to understand the extent and nature of substance use among apprentices and tradespeople, and the best practices available to help support their wellbeing and create safer workplaces. Key findings from an anonymous Canada-wide survey with apprentices and tradespeople, as well as 50 interviews with employers, unions and tradespeople across the country, will be used to inform a national communications campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the risks of substance use and sharing resources to prevent drug use and reduce harm.

Start-end date: July 2022 - March 2023
Sponsor: Canadian Apprenticeship Forum

College consortium for mental health: Assessing campus mental health at five GTA colleges – Phase 1

With the introduction of the national Standard for mental health and wellbeing for postsecondary students (CSA Z2003) in 2020, five colleges in the Greater Toronto Area agreed to collaborate to determine how to proceed with its implementation. SRDC and the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health were invited to partner with consortium members, and with funding from Bell, to facilitate discussions about how best to use the Standard to meet the unique needs of college students living in the GTA. The Campus Mental Health Action Tracker – a tool recently developed by SRDC – was used to develop a common understanding of each college's current state regarding student mental health. Key goals for this first phase of work included determining how mental health-related policy, programming, and practice at the five colleges currently align and diverge, as well as sharing common strengths and challenges, and learning promising practices from each other.

Start-end date: May 2021 - September 2021
Sponsor: Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning

Synthesizing the evidence for Integrated Youth Services

Integrated Youth Services (IYS) is a pan-Canadian movement to build youth-focused mental health, substance use, and related services that aim to provide the right care at the right time, by the right provider for young people aged 12-25 in Canada. The rapidly growing suite of IYS projects constitutes the largest and most ambitious movement currently underway to reform mental health services across the country. SRDC has been engaged by the Bell-Graham Boeckh Foundation Partnership to synthesize what is currently known about IYS in Canada regarding current reach, implementation processes, and impact. The resulting report, which will include an overview document, will establish a baseline of the current state of IYS development in Canada and identify gaps in the evidence. Collecting and documenting learnings and best practices will help to increase awareness of the evidence for IYS and support future efforts to improve the quality and scale of this model of care, thus enhancing impact.

Start-end date: April 2021 - November 2021
Sponsor: Graham Boeckh Foundation

Evaluation of the Family Capacity Advocate program

The Family Capacity Advocate program delivered by the Britannia Woods Community House (BWCH) supports families who have a loved one from the ages of 12-25 that are involved in some capacity with the justice system and/or engaged in criminal activity. BWCH is a community-based agency that focuses on providing responsive supports for children, youth, and families who live in fixed and low-income communities, through an equitable and strength-based lens. The Family Capacity Advocate supports siblings, parents, and caregivers using a holistic, coordinated, and equitable approach. Services include counselling, mentorship, crisis intervention, and resource navigation support. SRDC is supporting BWCH in planning and conducting an implementation and outcome evaluation of this new program. SRDC is conducting qualitative key informant interviews, and developing data collection tools and an information management system. Evaluation-capacity building is an important focus of this work, as SRDC and BWCH work together to plan a sustainable approach to ongoing program evaluation efforts.

Start-end date: January 2021 - December 2021
Sponsor: Youturn Youth Support Services + Britannia Woods Community House

‘Hash It Out’: Community-based research on IRER youth cannabis and mental health

The purpose of this project is to explore the relationship between cannabis use and mental health and wellness from the perspectives of youth within immigrant, refugee, ethnocultural, and racialized (IRER) communities in Ottawa. SRDC is partnering with the Centre for Resilience and Social Development and Dr. Saida Abdi (University of Minnesota School of Social Work) to carry out this work. The project is based on a participatory, community-driven approach. A youth research coordinator is leading the research team, and IRER youth are engaged as co-researchers. The project is aligned with an experience-based co-design methodology, which includes conducting qualitative interviews and focus groups, and hosting community engagement events. Through this research, people with multiple perspectives – youth, family/supports, and service providers – are brought together to share their experiences and identify solutions for action and policy change.

Start-end date: January 2021 - March 2022
Sponsor: Centre for Resilience and Social Development

Supporting Vulnerable Children and Youth During COVID-19 Through Safe and Accessible Digital Programming

The Boys and Girls Club of Canada is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for children and youth where they can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships, and develop confidence and lifeskills. With the pandemic shifting programming online, Clubs are faced with the need to ensure that child and youth safety is prioritized, and any risks mitigated. Sixty Clubs across Canada have been funded to receive training and monitoring supports for virtual program delivery, to conduct outreach and ensure families have access to online programming. SRDC as the evaluation partner will be tracking the numbers of children/families accessing virtual programs, outcomes of the online contacts, and any challenges faced along the way. Findings from the evaluation of virtual programming at participating Clubs will support a national initiative led by BGCC and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation to curate resources and identify best practices in online safety for vulnerable youth.

Start-end date: September 2020 - March 2021
Sponsor: Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

The Campus Mental Health Action Tracker – 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 Standard for Mental health and Well-being for Post-secondary Students, now available. SRDC was engaged to develop a self-assessment tool of implementation progress, called the Campus Mental Health Action Tracker; a prototype was produced and tested, and received promising feedback from users. An opportunity to use the Tracker is now being made available to a larger group of postsecondary institutions. The purpose of the self-assessment tool is 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' mental health and well-being.

Start-end date: May 2020 - October 2023
Sponsor: Mental Health Commission of Canada + Bell Canada + RBC Foundation + Rossy Foundation

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

Skills for Life: impact evaluation

This project builds on three previous phases of work and a highly successful collaboration with School Mental Health Ontario, to support mental health promotion in high school. Classroom resources (previously called Healthy Transitions From High School) have been developed to enhance the social emotional learning skills students need to promote and protect their mental health and navigate the transition from high school. These resources – together with teacher training and support – proved promising in a recent pilot test, and will soon be evaluated in a rigorous trial in dozens of Ontario schools. Results 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 - June 2024
Sponsor: Anonymous sponsor + School Mental Health Ontario

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: Anonymous sponsor + 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: Anonymous sponsor

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: Anonymous sponsor

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