Division of Child and Youth Mental Health

The Child & Youth Mental Health Division mission is to:

  • Lead in providing exemplary mental health care for children and youth.
  • Generate leading edge, transdisciplinary research.
  • Develop and disseminate new evidence-based interventions.
  • Promote leading edge, inter-professional, life-long, learning.
  • Build partnerships and pathways of care that improve mental health for children, youth, their families and communities
  • Advocate for innovative preventive, targeted and early intervention initiatives.

About the Child and Youth Mental Health Division

The Division of Child and Youth Mental Health represents faculty from several academic sites within the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. We serve children and youth from 0 to 24 years of age in both hospital and community agency settings. There are over 150 part time and full time faculty that have as their focus scholarship, education and clinical activities in child and youth mental health.

The Division is founded on a firm basis of collaboration in all our activities, a commitment to inter-professional learning and to excellence in clinical care. The foundation for mental health throughout the life span begins in infancy and each developmental stage carries its own specific challenges and opportunities for prevention and early intervention.

The Division has now embraced youth aged 18-24 who are transitioning to adult systems of care as an important part of our mandate. This is a particularly vulnerable developmental stage that is generally ill served by current mental health systems, yet three-quarters of mental health problems of adults begin before age 25. Both more research and education for health professionals are required to improve outcomes for this population.

Infancy is another developmental stage that is particularly vulnerable to biopsychosocial risk factors, has a high prevalence of developmental health challenges and is a period that requires more concerted effort from health professionals. Early intervention throughout infancy, childhood, adolescence and young adulthood provide important opportunities to prevent later disability and reduce the incidence and burden of mental illness in later life.

The Division aims to build a community of scholars that conducts cutting edge research on child and youth mental health. Our scientists span the entire spectrum of methodologies from fundamental discovery research to implementation science and qualitative approaches. The Division aims to develop and evaluate integrated and effective treatment models and evidence based clinical practice guidelines. A key objective of the Division is to strengthen links between clinical and fundamental research in all stages of development from infancy to young adulthood We are committed to enhancing communication between scientists, families, schools, clinicians, decision makers and community mental health agencies. Only in this way can more evidenced based screening and intervention services be widely disseminated.

We promote a collaborative, inclusive approach to clinical services that are integrated into the community and serve children and youth with mental health, addiction, and developmental challenges.

We are committed to developing and disseminating new, universally accessible, targeted interventions and services that have the potential for major academic and clinical impact.

Developing an academic culture for the Division that is scholarly, collegial, collaborative and innovative requires active recruitment and retention of junior clinician scientists, clinician-educators and post-doctoral fellows and mentoring of existing faculty.

Integrating new knowledge about development into clinical neuroscience and population health and ensuring that all health professionals at all levels are exposed to this knowledge are key parts of our academic culture. We are firmly committed to training the next generation of scientists, clinicians and policy makers to make a positive difference to the mental health of children and youth at a population level.

For more information about the Division of Child and Youth Mental Health, please contact Division Director Dr. Peter Szatmari.

 

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