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Transforming Youth Mental Health Services

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Seventy percent of mental health issues appear before the age of twenty-five, and when left untreated can impact all aspects of life with exacerbated consequences for certain subgroups including First Nations youth. For example, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth in Canada, with an incidence rate that is dramatically higher among First Nations youth[1].

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the gross cost of mental health in Canada is estimated at $50 billion per year, with $42.3 billion accounting for direct costs to our healthcare system.[2]  Further, the lifetime cost of childhood mental health disorders has been estimated at approximately $200 billion dollars.[3] Within the next 30 years, it is estimated that the total cost to the Canadian economy due to mental health challenges may reach well over $2.5 trillion.2

Current approaches have not achieved a substantive impact on the quality of health and wellness indicators among First Nations youth in Canada. Fortunately, today’s technologies create opportunities to deliver new models that improve care and reduce costs.

Using NexJ Connected Wellness to Improve Outcomes for Youth with Mental Illness

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) recognizes the urgent need to support and care for youth with mental illness. FedDev Ontario is funding The Health Ecosphere: An Innovation Pipeline for Commercial Health Solutions. This three-year collaborative project will bring researchers together with business to develop technologies to coordinate healthcare across systems that previously operated in silos.

In one of The Health Ecosphere projects, NexJ Health, York University and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) will use NexJ Connected Wellness to deliver mental health coaching and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to youth from aboriginal and non-aboriginal backgrounds with psychiatrically-diagnosed depressive and anxiety disorders.

The goal of the project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of using NexJ Connected Wellness in improving outcomes for youth with mental illness. It will also measure the cost-savings from delivering improved care online and from reducing wait-lists for psychiatric services.

Patient recruitment at CAMH is expected to commence this fall, and the randomized controlled trial will finish at the end of 2018.

For more information on this project or the work we are doing in youth mental health, contact us at



[1] Government of Canada (2006). The human face of mental health and mental illness in Canada. Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada.

[2] Mental Health Commission of Canada (2016). Making the Case for Investing in Mental Health in Canada. Calgary: MHCC.

[3] Smith, J.P., & Smith, G.C. (2010). Long-term economic costs of psychological problems during childhood. Social Science & Medicine, 71 (1), 110–115.