The Mental Health Commission of Canada's Consensus Conference on the Mental Health of Emerging Adults brought together emerging adults, families, service providers, and policy makers from across the country to develop recommendations for improving the mental health of emerging adults living in Canada. Using a collaborative format, broad representation, and interactive approach, this conference generated an unprecedented dialogue on a topic that has been long overlooked.
Emerging adulthood is when mental health problems or illnesses most often emerge, at a stage of life fraught with doubt, struggle, alienation, and uncertainty. It is also when they face the most barriers in accessing services and supports.
After deliberating well into the early hours of the morning on the conference’s last day, the panel, delegates, and 16-person jury presented draft guiding principles and an initial set of recommendations for improving mental health outcomes for emerging adults.
The draft principles include:
- All emerging adults across Canada have equal access to high-quality, publicly funded mental health care.
- The culture of the system is one of hope, collaboration and integration.
- Emerging adults are engaged as experts.
- Indigenous knowledge, systems and practices are fully integrated where they are needed.
- Services are client-driven and cover the full range of a person’s needs.
- The mental health care system is flexible.
- Services are locally, culturally and personally relevant.
- Emerging adults with mental health needs have access to supportive peers and professionals they can relate to.
- Services respect the individual and create a sense of community and belonging.
- Services are highly responsive to the needs of all vulnerable people.
In addition, the panel and conference delegates urged amendments to the principles to acknowledge current racial and other inequity experienced by emerging adults.
Facilitated through the MHCC’s Knowledge Exchange Centre, the conference jury, emerging adults panel, and conference delegates will continue to work together over the coming months to capture and finalize the conference recommendations.
The Twitter feed was very active during the conference, enabling those who were unable to attend in person to participate in the dialogue. See a Storify record of the Twitter conversation here.
See below for the various presentations from the conference or download the conference program.
Many of the recommendations discussed were identified in Taking the Next Step Forward: Building a Responsive Mental Health and Addictions System for Emerging Adults, a comprehensive report commissioned by the MHCC and prepared by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
Taking the Next Step Forward is just one of a number of ways the MHCC supports child and youth mental health. Download an overview here.
THEME 1: Defining emerging adulthood as a stage of life
- An Anthropological Lens on the World of Emerging Adults
Presentation by Gilles Bibeau on the critical characteristics and experiences of emerging adults and what we know about their mental health status.
- Vulnerable populations: One missed opportunity after another
Presentation by Chris Richardson on vulnerable populations and who emerging adults are.
THEME 2: Bridging the gap between child and youth mental health services and adult mental health services
- Bridging the gap between child and youth mental health services and adult mental health services
Presentation by Simon Davidson on how well the mental health system responds to the needs of emerging adults, what are the critical gaps and some potential solutions to address these gaps.
- Lasting Solutions for Emerging Adults with Mental Ill-health : Genuine Reform not Transitional Band aids
Presentation by Patrick McGorry on lasting solutions for emerging adults with mental ill-health.
THEME 3: Transitions across system sectors
- Experts by Experience: EA and Family Engagement as a “Non-Negotiable” in Creating and Sustaining Systems of Care
Presentation by Angela Burden on emerging adults’ family engagement as non-negotiable in creating and sustaining systems of care.
- Emerging Adults Who Are … Emerging From Child Welfare Care
Presentation by Alan Leschied on emerging adults who are emerging from child welfare care and who have unique needs.
- Facilitated service integration: Because no one has cornered this market
Presentation by Steve Mathias on facilitated service integration and what services and elements are needed to integrate them.
- Transitions between Secondary and Postsecondary
Presentation by Catherine Willinsky on transitions between secondary and postsecondary education.
THEME 4: Mechanisms for improving mental health system responsiveness
- The Mental Health System: What needs to change?
Presentation by Stan Kutcher on the mental health system, what needs to change, and focusing on meeting the health needs of youth.
- Northern Perspectives, Northern Realities
Presentation by Andy Langford on northern perspectives and northern realities.
- The Mental Health System: What needs to change?
Presentation by Catherine Pryce on what is needed at each tier and across the continuum of mental health care to ensure appropriate services are available to support emerging adults.