GBF and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have partnered to co-develop the Integrated Youth Services Network of Networks (IYS-Net) initiative. IYS-Net will work with partners and stakeholders across the country to develop IYS initiatives through a learning health systems approach.

IYS is transforming youth mental health and substance use services in communities across Canada and helping to ensure that young people have equitable access to the range of services they need, when they need them.

GBF and CIHR have committed to co-funding IYS-Net and will seek further public and private partners to ensure that all provinces and territories can participate. IYS-Net will be developed in phases, and input will be sought from a broad range of stakeholders to ensure all jurisdictions in Canada receive the support they need to help young people.

IYS-Net aims to:

  • Transform Integrated Youth Services in Canada and youth mental health and substance use outcomes through pan-Canadian research and knowledge mobilization which enables a learning health systems approach;
  • Use data and measurement to enable evidence-informed decision-making that integrates research seamlessly into practice and policy;
  • Facilitate effective and meaningful youth and caregiver engagement throughout all phases, ensuring clients and caregivers/families, as well as providers and policy makers, all play key roles; and
  • Build strong linkages and co-leadership with and by First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Urban Indigenous communities, to ensure culturally informed, accessible, and equitable services.

What is a Learning Health System?

A Learning Health System (LHS) is a healthcare system in which research, data, and experience generate knowledge and evidence that is embedded in and applied to processes, policies, and practices to continuously innovate and improve health equity, service delivery and cost. A LHS will also improve the experience for service providers as well as for people accessing services (e.g., youth, families, caregivers, etc.).

What are Integrated Youth Services and what do we mean by a ‘Network of Networks’?

Integrated Youth Services (IYS) represents a dynamic pan-Canadian and international approach that aims to build effective, youth-focused, and integrated services for mental health, substance use and related issues. It is defined by a set of guiding principles for delivering community-based mental health and substance use services alongside additional needed youth supports. Services delivered through IYS often include:

  • mental health services
  • substance use counselling
  • primary care
  • peer and family support services
  • sexual health services
  • work and study supports
  • navigating the health care system
  • housing and other social and community services
  • traditional Indigenous healing and cultural practices

This approach has been designed and developed by young people and their caregivers and families and has been gaining momentum across Canada since 2013.

In Canada, almost every province and territory is rolling out IYS (e.g., Foundry in British Columbia, Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario in Ontario, Huddle in Manitoba), including in Indigenous communities. While individual IYS sites may vary depending on the local needs of communities, each province and territory set guiding practices or standards for the delivery of IYS. IYS-Net will build upon the success of the ACCESS Open Minds Network and support existing and developing provincial and territorial networks to understand and evaluate best practices in IYS.

IYS-Net is called a “network of networks” because the goal is to support provincial and territorial networks to develop and maintain learning health systems, as well as link IYS networks across the country (existing and emerging) into a coordinated, pan-Canadian network of IYS researchers, service providers, policy makers, and most importantly, youth.