Western University's Faculty of Education is working to improve care for vulnerable children, and enable groundbreaking research, by organizing children's mental health experts together into one unique location.
The approach to care, called the Single Ceiling initiative, will create an environment of shareable knowledge and expertise around children's mental health care all under one roof, and make accessing these resources easier for the children who need them most.
Currently, 15-20 percent of Canadian children are affected by mental health disorders. However, only one out of every five of these children receives treatment within the health-care system.
“Today's model has children's mental health services distributed throughout the community, making it difficult for parents and caregivers to navigate the system,” said Vicki Schwean, dean of the Faculty of Education. “The Single Ceiling initiative will reorganize these resources in a unique way that benefits both children and the mental health care professionals.”
In addition to helping an increased number of children, experts will be collaboratively researching a number of evidence-based treatments designed to help bring about systemic change to the field of children’s mental health care.
“It is important to remember that all children are different,” Schwean said. “Our team members will work together to look at a variety of social determinants, socio-economic factors and parental profiles in order to understand the needs of these children, and develop individual, evidence-based treatment pathways.”
Experts will also be developing and evaluating early prevention strategies and empowering the local community by training teachers and parents to utilize those strategies to help improve children’s chances for success.
Merrymount Children's Centre and the Child and Youth Network are partnering with the Faculty of Education for the initiative, which will be located in the Child and Youth Network's family centre currently being constructed in London’s Argyle community.
The Faculty of Education is raising $3 million for the initiative to help research and develop treatment pathways, educate the local community and share the results of their work across Canada and beyond. The London Community Foundation recently provided $150,000 in funding toward that goal.
“The Single Ceiling initiative will be a catalyst for change in children’s mental health care, provincially, nationally and globally,” Schwean said. “It is an important investment in better health for our children and in a better future for all of us.”