Key attributes of integrated community-based youth service hubs for mental health: a scoping review [2019]

Community-based, integrated youth service hubs have the potential to address some of the longstanding issues with mental health services for youth, including problems with access and system fragmentation. Better understanding of these approaches, particularly efforts to create a single point of entry to comprehensive, evidence-based services through youth service hubs, is needed to help guide future implementation and evaluation. This scoping review identifies the key principles and characteristics of these models of care, as well as the state of the literature, particularly with regard to implementation and replicability.

Electronic databases and grey literature sources were searched for material from 2001 to 2019, with diverse search terms capturing the concept of “integrated” or “one-stop shop” youth mental health services. Title/abstract and full text review were conducted, as well as additional focused searching. After screening 4891 texts at the title/abstract level and 496 at the full-text level, 110 documents were included for data extraction.

Several integrated care hub models for youth mental health services and related frameworks were identified internationally, largely in high-income countries. Common principles included an emphasis on rapid access to care and early intervention, youth and family engagement, youth-friendly settings and services, evidence-informed approaches, and partnerships and collaboration. Program characteristics also revealed similarities (e.g., providing evidence-informed or evidence-based services in youth-friendly spaces), with some differences (e.g., care coordination methods, types of service providers), potentially attributable to lack of available information about key ingredients. Outcome research was limited, with few rigorous evaluations of youth outcomes. Moreover, sufficient information for replication, community evaluation of feasibility or actual implementation was rarely provided.

Internationally, integrated youth service hubs were found to share common key principles, while providing comprehensive services to youth with mental health difficulties. There is a great need for common language and measurement framework to facilitate replication, rigorous evaluation of outcomes, knowledge exchange, and dissemination of findings.

Cara A. Settipani, Lisa D. Hawke, Kristin Cleverley, Gloria Chaim, Amy Cheung, Kamna Mehra, Maureen Rice, Peter Szatmari & Joanna Henderson
International Journal of Mental Health Systems, volume 13, Article number: 52 (2019)