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Youth and Crisis – Navigating to Appropriate Services

As many as two million young people in Canada are struggling with mental health issues such as an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, depression or addiction. Only one in five will get the specialized treatment they need. This is largely because families don't know where to turn to find the services their children need.

The AHS Addictions & Mental Health team, along with other national and provincial health and wellness organizations, offers a great deal of support to children and youth in our region.  The health care system can be an overwhelming experience for children, youth and their families, especially when they are in a crisis situation. It can be difficult for families to obtain help for their children when they are not aware of what resources are available to them.

That’s where the Youth Mental Health Navigator role comes in. The navigator is knowledgeable about what services exist and guides families toward the right care at the right time.

"I aim to work collaboratively with clients and their families to access appropriate, time-sensitive, services that will address the client’s mental health needs. I believe it is vital to meet a client and their family where they are; to determine what has been tried, what successes they have experienced and what barriers prevent them from accessing what they need," said Cassie Guye, Addictions Counselor and the current Youth Mental Health Navigator.

The role of the Youth Mental Health Navigator helps families identify appropriate services and how they can access them, which can include locating funding for treatment or transportation.

“My role supports clients and their families as they transfer between systems as well. For example this could mean supporting clients as they transfer from treatment programs or inpatient facilities to outpatient therapy. It includes not only accessing appropriate services, but creating supportive discharge plans to set the client up for success and positive outcomes,” continued Guye.

Guye notes that one of the primary benefits of this role is to increase capacity and collaboration between stakeholders involved in a child’s life, when appropriate. “I’ve had positive experiences working with psychiatrists, family doctors, the school system and the pediatrics unit at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre. When professionals work together for the best interests of the client, system navigation becomes much easier and resources become attainable. When we work together to help client’s access the health care they deserve, we create healthier families and healthier communities.”

The Youth Mental Health Navigator position was a pilot project funded through a generous grant through the RBC Foundation and by community donations. The youth navigator position was turned into a Crisis Worker position working with the Mental Health and Pediatrics departments. For more information about youth mental health resources and access to hotlines please see the following website:


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