A Promising Route Towards Improvement of Homeless Young People’s Access to Mental Health Services: The Creation and Evolution of an Outreach Service Network in Montréal

Youth homelessness is a complex phenomenon as well as an important public health issue often compounded by mental illness of varying severity, in turn creating numerous deleterious consequences. While emergency health services usage remains high, access to mental health services is arduous and conventional interventions often fall short on providing integrated care and seldom lead to sustained positive outcomes for this group. From this observation, clinicians in Montreal, Canada, initiated collaborative meetings, eventually attended by a growing number of institutional and community stakeholders working with homeless youth. Acknowledging the unique needs of this population, the Réseau d’intervention de proximité auprès des Jeunes de la Rue (RIPAJ) or Montreal Homeless Youth Network was created to engage and seamlessly connect youth with the right resources within the network including mental health services amongst others. The genesis, philosophy and unique features of RIPAJ that allow for effective and cohesive interventions as well as future directions are discussed.

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Community Mental Health Journal