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MH-IN is an innovative mental health pathway to care model that has been developed by the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health Team to create and implement a seamless process that can improve mental health and mental health care for young people.  It includes: curriculum and other information to improve knowledge about mental health and mental illness; training of teachers and other school personnel to help identify young people who may have a mental disorder; establishing a seamless referral process between schools and health providers, training primary health care providers (doctors and nurses) in the diagnosis and best treatments for youth with a mental disorder and supporting young people being treated for a mental disorder on their return to school. Parent information about normal adolescent development and teen mental health is also now available.

This model  is currently being piloted in Nova Scotia in collaboration  with the Nova Scotia Department of Education, Schools Plus Program, South Shore Regional School Board, IWK Health Centre and Mental Health and Addictions Program, South Shore Primary Care and South Shore Mental Health Services.

The first pilot project was conducted at Forest Heights Community School and the report of the project is available for review.  It contains a description of the project process, preliminary data, and lessons learned for future practice and research.

Another pilot of this model is scheduled to take place in two schools (one English and one French) in Digby County, Nova Scotia starting September 2010.

What are we trying to achieve?
We are trying to improve mental health in young people by breaking down institutional silos and by addressing mental health needs of young people.  This model covers the entire scope ranging from mental health promotion (using a mental health literacy approach), to identification of young people with a mental illness to evidence driven care. This  care pathway model that involves educators, health providers and the wider community working together to improve the mental health of young people.

What is “An Integrated Pathway to Care Model”?
It is a holistic school mental health model that addresses youth mental health through promotion, early identification and prevention, evidence driven intervention and community-based continuing care in a coordinated manner. The model relies on many partners working together with a similar goal of improving youth mental health in the school setting.

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