Youth report improved wellbeing as result of tailored mental health services

July 11, 2018, Lawson Health Research Institute
Dr. Elizabeth Osuch (left), clinician-scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute and associate professor at Western University's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, and Justin Arcaro (right), first author on the study and a former MSc candidate at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and research associate at Lawson. Credit: Lawson Health Research Institute

In a new study from Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University, researchers partnered with youth receiving care at the First Episode Mood and Anxiety Program (FEMAP) at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) to better understand personal perspectives on care and treatment outcomes. The study found that patients experienced lasting improvements in managing their symptoms and improvements in academics, work performance and relationships, and they reported that these benefits involved being empowered by feelings of self-acceptance.

The study included 22 from FEMAP, a novel outpatient mental health program at LHSC that provides to 'emerging adults,' ages 16 to 25, with emotional concerns that fall into the categories of mood and anxiety symptoms. Treatment at FEMAP takes a patient-centred approach and the research involved looking at what is meaningful and valuable to patients during their care journey.

"The transition from adolescence to adulthood is challenging. FEMAP employs an innovative model of care tailored to the needs of this complex population," said Dr. Elizabeth Osuch, a clinician-scientist at Lawson, associate professor at Western University's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and medical director at FEMAP. "By engaging patients in a reflection of their experience, we can learn how effective the program is from the patient perspective."

Participants shared their experiences through open-ended interviews with Dr. Osuch's research team. Interview transcripts were collected and analyzed to determine common themes around treatment and outcomes. These themes were then presented back to the research participants for validation.

The study found that treatment led to development of coping strategies to better manage symptoms. Research participants credited these strategies for better functioning in academics, careers and personal relationships. Challenges in these areas are common among emerging adults and are often stressors that lead to youth seeking mental health care.

Participants characterized their treatment at FEMAP as an important investment in their mental health and wellbeing, and credited a collaborative partnership with their care provider for keeping them engaged in treatment. They appreciated the ease of accessing treatment at FEMAP where they could receive care from a psychiatrist, social worker, addictions counsellor, family counsellor and a psychologist, depending on their needs.

The research found that the complexities of treatment were initially frustrating to patients as they were seeking an "easy fix" to their mental health concerns, but they ultimately appreciated that mental health recovery is a journey. They valued that care providers partnered with them to set long-term treatment goals, choose the best treatment options and provide support both during and between appointments.

"Patients may prefer FEMAP over other because the care is tailored to emerging adults," said Justin Arcaro, first author on the study and a former MSc candidate at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and research associate at FEMAP. "There's an important balance between recognizing emerging adults' personal autonomy and their need for comprehensive support."

Study results demonstrated that through treatment at FEMAP, patients realized they are not alone in their mental health journey which led to improved self-acceptance and self-compassion. Participants reported feeling empowered to create meaningful changes in their lives.

Participants also discussed the decision to seek mental care in the first place. Many struggled with the decision of whether or not treatment was needed. "This shows a need for targeted campaigns to help emerging adults distinguish between normative feelings and those that indicate a need for help," said Dr. Osuch.

This study also aligns with other research projects at FEMAP that suggest a need for targeted education campaigns about as a process with solutions that are not necessarily quick or easy. The research team highlights the importance of these findings in informing future funding decisions and policy around care for emerging adults. The findings emphasize the need for quick engagement with a trusted care provider and an integrated treatment team that can partner with patients to support them while enhancing independent growth and self-acceptance.

The study, "Emerging adults' evaluation of their treatment in an outpatient mood and anxiety disorders program," is published in Emerging Adulthood.

Explore further: New research supports youth with mood and anxiety disorders

More information: Justin A. Arcaro et al, Emerging Adults' Evaluation of Their Treatment in an Outpatient Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, Emerging Adulthood (2018). DOI: 10.1177/2167696818777339

Related Stories

New research supports youth with mood and anxiety disorders

April 11, 2012
75% of mental illnesses emerge by age 25. Mood and anxiety disorders are among the most common conditions, yet there is little support for youth in this age group. A new study from Lawson Health Research Institute shows that ...

For parents of multiples, elevated rates of mental health symptoms but low rates of treatment

May 4, 2018
Parents of twins and other multiple-birth children experience higher than average rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, particularly during the first three months, according to a survey study in the ...

Online therapy proves effective for treating depression and anxiety

November 9, 2017
Providing an online computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CCBT) program, both alone and in combination with an Internet Support Group (ISG), is a more effective treatment for anxiety and depression than a doctor's usual ...

Many patients in urban clinics need mental health treatment

March 17, 2016
The American health care system must do a better job of systematically detecting and treating mental health problems within outpatient primary care clinics, especially those that serve vulnerable populations, finds a study ...

Health insurance changes, access to care by patients' mental health status

September 6, 2017
A research letter published by JAMA Psychiatry examined access to care before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and after the ACA for patients grouped by mental health status using a scale to assess mental ...

Fourfold increase in likelihood of anxiety or depression treatment if your partner has already done so

September 25, 2017
A study led by a team at Keele University has found that when one partner of a couple consults their GP about depression or anxiety, the other partner is much more likely to do the same.

Recommended for you

3-D-printed tracheal splints used in groundbreaking pediatric surgery

September 19, 2018
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has performed Georgia's first-ever procedure to place 3-D-printed tracheal splints in a pediatric patient. A cross-functional team of Children's surgeons used three custom-made splints, which ...

New approach improves detection of diseases at birth

September 13, 2018
The combination of a new sequencing technique and machine learning can speed up the diagnosis of diseases in newborns and reduce false-positive results, Yale researchers and their collaborators report.

Study finds that kids are more likely to drink healthier beverages if adults speak the truth—subtly

September 12, 2018
What's the best way to persuade children to drink water instead of unhealthy, sugar-laced beverages? Do you:

Boys and girls share similar math abilities at young ages, study finds

September 10, 2018
There has been much speculation about whether lower female participation rates in STEM fields can be traced to an innate male superiority in math and science. But a new University of Chicago study wanted to test whether boys ...

New advice on kids' concussions calls for better tracking

September 4, 2018
New children's concussion guidelines from the U.S. government recommend against routine X-rays and blood tests for diagnosis and reassure parents that most kids' symptoms clear up within one to three months.

Infants can distinguish between leaders and bullies, study finds

September 3, 2018
A new study finds that 21-month-old infants can distinguish between respect-based power asserted by a leader and fear-based power wielded by a bully.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.