Hands And NU Earn Grant Aimed At Youth Mental Health And Addiction


Hands and NU Earn Grant Aimed at Youth Mental Health and Addiction

Hands theFamilyHelpNetwork.ca, in partnership with Nipissing University, has been awarded an Ontario Youth Mental Health, Substance Use and Addictions Grant from Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) and the Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions.

The $100,000 grant will be used to build community capacity for trauma informed and addiction approaches for youth in Northern Ontario.

Lead Investigators include Dr. Tina Benevides, Data Analysis and Research Evaluator at Hands; Trish Mintz, Director of Child and Youth Mental Health at Hands; and Dr. Andrew Weeks, Chair of the Psychology Department at Nipissing University.

Research shows that compared to other provinces, adolescents residing in Ontario report higher rates of illicit drug use. Parents and caregivers in rural communities in Northern Ontario face barriers in accessing appropriate services, a lack of clear referral pathways and a disconnect between assessments and interventions. Additional training is required for professionals to address the complexity of issues for youth presenting with mental health and addiction issues (concurrent disorders). Further, understanding how trauma and addiction impact brain architecture and function will be highly beneficial for front-line mental health professionals who work with youth with concurrent disorders.

“Investing in the mental health needs of the youth is incredibly important. We are proud to support community-based research and strive, through our funding and partnerships like this one with Hands theFamilyHelpNetwork.ca and Nipissing University, to build important bridges between academia and community,” said Akela Peoples, MHRC CEO.

“Thank you to the MHRC and the Knowledge Institute for recognizing the value in this work and investing in it,” said Mintz. “We are developing a plan to enhance core service providers’ ability to help youth who suffer with concurrent mental health, substance use, and addiction issues. We want to help front-line staff to build skills, collaborate effectively, and provide a common language and understanding of the latest research on the neuroscience of youth addiction.”

“The research is always progressing as we develop our understanding of highly complex issues relating to brain structures and function in youth addiction,” said Dr. Weeks. “We look forward to working with frontline workers who are actively helping youth with mental health and addiction concerns to share the latest research on what is going on in these developing brains and how traumatic experiences can alter brain function. We hope this vital knowledge will strengthen their ability to help these youth and families in need. We have a fantastic lab and team here at Nipissing University and are excited to play an important role in such valuable work in this mental health field.”

The Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) is an innovative national charitable organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of Canadians by advancing mental health knowledge in a unique but important way: we ensure the fulsome engagement of people with lived experience throughout the entire research process.  We pride ourselves on being nimble, collaborative, forward-looking and committed to excellence in all that we do.

The Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions supports Ontario child and youth mental health agencies, communities and decision makers to help young people in Ontario develop in ways that expand their future opportunities and ensure lifelong mental health. Their work is anchored by two core goals: to mobilize knowledge and improve quality across Ontario’s child and youth mental health and addictions sector. They are funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and is a provincial program and department of CHEO.


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