Increasing access to child and youth mental health in BC

The need for specialized child and youth mental health and substance use care is increasing across BC, but access to child and youth psychiatry is limited, particularly in rural or remote areas of the province.

Now a new online learning resource entitled Learning Links has been created for general psychiatrists, pediatricians, GPs and other providers, to enhance knowledge, skills and confidence in caring for children and youth struggling with mental health and substance use issues. The goal is to increase access to expert care, regardless of location.

"Physicians were telling us, 'We are seeing kids every day. We really need more training'", says Dr. Jana Davidson, psychiatrist in chief at BC Children's Hospital. Learning Links was created by an expert team of content advisors led by Davidson, as part of the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative funded by Doctors of BC and the BC government.

How do the modules work?


Learning Links features 15 distinct modules including anxiety, depression, self-harm, OCD, psychotic disorders, sleep disorders, addictive disorders and more. Each module only takes 30-60 minutes, and can be completed as a person’s schedule allows. Following completion, physicians can submit for professional development or continuing education credits.

What will I learn?


The content in each of the 15 topic areas follows a clinical template from presentations through diagnosis, pharmacology and management. Each module includes instructive video clips on topics such as ‘how to build rapport with young patients and families’ and 'how to conduct patient interviews.' Physician tester, Dr. Francine Ling, a Nanaimo-area pediatrician appreciated the practical component of the modules “It gave me ways to talk about the issues with parents, and the words or phrases you can use, and then backed it up with resources”, she states. Links to other resources and in-depth medical information are also provided.

Feedback so far


Other testers also found the modules valuable. Dr. Natasha Frolic in the Comox Valley states "I am a general psychiatrist so that means I don’t deal with child and adolescent psychiatry very often. My comfort level is not very high and I am expected to do general call in which I may see children and adolescents. I was very pleased with what I did learn and will go back and take more modules when it’s released.”

A survey of early testers also showed that the majority felt the modules increased their understanding of mental health and substance use disorders (85%), increased their ability to identify disorders (89%), ability to treat (82%) and confidence in treating (85%).

To learn more and get started visit