Background Image

Equipping BC doctors with mental health skills and resources

"Physicians were telling us, 'We are seeing kids every day. We really need more training'. Dr. Jana Davidson, Psychiatrist in Chief at BC Children's Hospital.

Mental Health Week, May 1-7th, wraps up with National Child and Youth Mental Health Day on May 7th. The day offers the opportunity to raise awareness and foster discussion about mental health and substance use issues affecting children, youth and families. The hope is that talk will lead to action for prevention, early intervention, and increased access to caring adults for our young people when needed.   

At Doctors of BC, we know involving physicians is key to helping improving outcomes for children and youth with mental health and substance use issues. Family physicians are often the first to hear from concerned parents seeking help for their child.

Building knowledge, skills and confidence

For a number of years now, Doctors of BC in partnership with the BC government, has been supporting initiatives to ensure our health care community is equipped with the skills, knowledge and confidence to effectively respond to the needs of this vulnerable population.  

One of these initiatives, the provincial Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use (CYMHSU) Collaborative, links the health care community to new and established resources to increase CYMH capacity for physicians and providers:

  • Practice Support Program (PSP) CYMH Module:  Established in 2007 under the Joint Collaborative Committees of Doctors of BC and the BC Government, the Practice Support Program provides evidence-based educational services to support BC doctors. More than 1,600 doctors have taken PSP's CYMH module through the CYMHSU Collaborative, and more than 92 training sessions have been held across the five health authorities. You can access the module here.
  • Learning Links Online Educational Modules: As part of the CYMHSU Collaborative, BC Children's Hospital Mental Health and Substance Use Programs developed 15 in-depth, online modules for physicians and other care providers  about child and youth mental health, including anxiety, depression, bipolar, self-harm, psychosis, suicidal ideation and more. 90% of participants say they better understand the disorders and are more confident managing children and youth with the conditions after taking the training. See
  • ER protocol:  Hospital emergency rooms are often the first place youth and families go when they are in a mental health crisis. Equipping BC's busy ER physicians and staff with standardized tools for assessment, support and follow-up has been the goal of the ER Protocol Working Group of the Collaborative. Now being rolled out in all five health regions, the ER Protocol is slated to be implemented in all BC's 109 hospitals by December 2017. Read more about the protocol here and find examples of the ER resources here.
  • CYMH Resource Prescription pads: Pre-printed with helpful CYMH phone numbers and websites, the Rx pad sheet can be customized with a doctor's advice and torn off and given to a patient or family right in the office. See how it works in White Rock/South Surrey.
  • Helping Suicidal Patients: Local Action Teams of the Collaborative have developed resources for sharing across BC, to enhance knowledge on how to respond to suicidal patients.  
    1) Salt Spring Island developed three Suicide Prevention Toolkits, one specifically for physicians. Take a look here.
    2) More than a dozen Local Actions Teams around the province have sponsored doctors as well as other community members, such as first responders, to take the award-winning two-day program Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). Read more about the program here.

Information on these resources and many other tried and tested tools and templates can be found at The website was created to encourage sharing of successful community CYMHSU strategies to increase access to care for BC children, youth and families.

< Back