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Self referral for depressed youth in need of care


By age 25, 75% of mental illnesses have been diagnosed. Mood and anxiety disorders are among the most common, but for young people, there are few services. A new study shows that the trend may be changing.

Dr. Elizabeth Osuch, Lawson Health Research Institute researcher and a psychiatrist at London Health Sciences Centre, leads a treatment and clinical research program, First Episode Mood and Anxiety Program (FEMAP), specially for youth, aged 16-26. Usually young people can only access the services through a healthcare provider referral. FEMAP allows potential patients to refer themselves. This could help professionals to better connect with kids at risk. While a person is young, early intervention is key.

After FEMAP initiated, they reached out to local secondary schools, medical centers and community agencies. They enrolled 93 youth in their first year. Research shows that 67% of the patients referred themselves. Almost 71% had received treatment in the past but still had severe symptoms. This seems to show that young people are aware of their need and are able to reach out for help.

“It is our belief that adolescents and young adults should not meet any obstacles when they reach out for mental health care because the odds are just too high. If a young person has to wait 6 to 12 months to get the mental health care they need that could ruin a semester or a year of school or their early work life,” explained Dr. Osuch. “That would have a seriously detrimental effect on their developmental trajectory and that why we at FEMAP wanted to see if easier access would be an appropriate and useful model for youth mental health care delivery.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Lawson Health Research Institute

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