Implementing Community-Based Service Hub Model for Youth

Youth, aged 11-24 years, were falling through the cracks of a mental health care system designed without their needs in mind. Something had to change. And, in 2017 something did. The Alberta government introduced funding for integrated mental health service delivery hubs for youth. As a leader in the area of youth engagement and mental health and with deep knowledge of the Alberta context, PolicyWise was tasked with the development, implementation, and evaluation of the hubs. They engaged 11 diverse communities across the province and began working together to identify resources and create plans for action to support youth mental health in their communities. Then the pandemic hit. The implementation plans that were so carefully crafted by each of the 11 community hubs had to change. All the while demand was rising – youth were struggling. Service providers were scrambling – how could they connect with youth while closing their doors? PolicyWise was there to steward the hubs through these changes and brought organizations together to discuss challenges and develop collective solutions. Some hub staff made greater use of social media, others enhanced their online or telephone support – ‘aunties’ as some youth affectionately called them – all learned how to better listen, connect, collaborate, and serve the youth in their communities. As one organization put it “This is probably the one project that we are finally crossing sectors.” In the end, the hubs continue to break down silos that had long existed and emerged from the past year much stronger, more coordinated, and connected than they had been before – their story of resiliency is one we can all learn from and celebrate.