Healthy emotional and social development in early years lays the foundation for mental health and resilience throughout life.
An estimated 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness, yet less than 20 percent receive appropriate treatment. Studies show that half of those who develop mental health disorders, show symptoms by age 14. Focusing on prevention and early intervention for children and youth can support individuals before they reach a crisis point.
In the fall of 2018, the Lab’s team began deep listening and learning activities to understand opportunities to improve children and youth’s mental health in Calgary. The team investigated awareness and access to mental health services, system navigation, and systems coordination. To best understand the access experience, the Lab team worked with external stakeholders including Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, corporations, non-profit organizations, donors, United Way staff, and families with children who have accessed mental health supports. In addition to external stakeholders, subject matter experts in mental health were consulted by the Lab’s core team as a creative brief to define the opportunities to move into ideation, experimentation, and solutions phases was produced.
Through the first quarter of 2019, multiple ideas were tested while assessing three lenses of innovation including desirability (what do users need and want), viability (does the ecosystem support scalable and sustainable delivery of citizen and stakeholder value), and feasibility (what is technically and culturally feasible). Out of all the ideas, three prototypes have met the criteria and are being taken forward for development and implementation including a personal App that provides insights to support holistic well-being; an in-school digital course that supports youth grades 7 – 9 with mental well-being, stigma reduction, and awareness; and an immersive simulation to build the capacity of natural supports.
Additional solutions and opportunity areas are currently under testing are being identified, and the work in children and youth mental health will continue with product refinement and testing new insights throughout 2019.
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