Day treatment helps youth heal

Strengthening mental health services -

Island youth living with complex mental illness and their families are getting a chance to heal and live a healthier life through the INSIGHT program.

INSIGHT supports Island youth ages 13 to 18 with a current mental health diagnosis who require intensive treatment in order to carry out daily life, while living at home and being a part of their community. Launched last fall, it is the province’s first youth mental health day-treatment program.

“We know from research that people can improve their health status, including their mental health, in a number of ways,” said Dr. Jacqueline Goodwin, a clinical psychologist and INSIGHT program team lead. “We work with youth and their families to create a treatment plan that works best for them, that supports healthy lifestyle management for them. We work with them on following that plan, every day. I am constantly amazed at the courage and resiliency of our youth who are committed to getting better.”

The INSIGHT program team specifically works with youth across the province who experience significant and persistent primary mood, anxiety, and/or psychotic disorders. They can be referred to the program through Community Mental Health, youth addictions services, psychiatrists, or pediatricians.

Youth typically stay in the program up to 16 weeks, and those in junior or senior high school continue to attend their school on Wednesdays. In groups of eight to 10 at a time, the youth take part in a full-day program that includes group work, individual counseling, schooling, and work on strategies that can lead to more stable lives and better outcomes. It can focus on:

  • following medication instructions;
  • proper sleep hygiene;
  • good nutrition; and
  • recognizing the signs of stresses or problems that could lead to a crisis.

“As a province, we are working collaboratively with health care providers to transform our mental health services so that Islanders get the care they need, when they need it,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson. “We know that children and youth are best cared for in their own community, with the support of their families, friends, schools and neighbours. A lot of progress has been made to introduce programs like INSIGHT that support their recovery with tools and information that they and their families need.”

Additional investments have been made in the last two years to enhance mental health services for children and youth including:

  • expanding the Strength program;
  • implementing the Strongest Families program;
  • establishing the Behavioural Support Team;
  • introducing Triple P Parenting;
  • hiring additional staff to support inpatient adolescent mental health at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital; and
  • creating the Student Well-Being Teams.

For more information on mental health programs and services, including the INSIGHT Program, visit

Media contact:
Amanda Hamel



Since INSIGHT began in November 2016, 20 youth have taken part in the 16-week program. The INSIGHT team offers:

  • multi-disciplinary team assessments;
  • cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) oriented group therapy;
  • individual and family therapy, as needed;
  • parent/guardian education and support group;
  • positive social, health, and life skills learning and activities;
  • small group academics and school consultation;
  • pharmacotherapy consultation and management;
  • provision of resource information; and
  • discharge planning.

About the additional enhancements to child and youth mental-health services:

• The Strength program, a residential and day treatment program for youth ages 15 to 24 (and their families) who are dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues, was expanded in 2015. Since then, there have been 177 admissions to the program, eliminating the need for out-of-province referrals for treatment.

• Introduced in 2015, the Strongest Families program, an online and telehealth resource, supports Island families with children and youth ages 3 to 17 who experience behaviour, anxiety, or nighttime/ bedwetting problems. There are currently 369 Island families enrolled in the program, reducing waitlists for other mental health services. On average, the service receives approximately 40 new referrals each month.

• In 2016, the Behavioural Support Team began working with children aged 4 to 12 with moderate to severe disruptive behaviors that can be associated with a range of mental health conditions. They provide short term, goal-focused therapy to children and their families. The team is currently providing services to 51 children and their families.

• Triple P Parenting is an intragovernmental approach, supported by funding from all social departments, providing earlier intervention for behavior issues and offering parenting support. 21 mental health and addictions staff members have been trained in this approach.
• Introduced this fall, Student Well-Being Teams work in schools advising, consulting, and providing direct service to children and youth who are struggling with mental, social and physical health issues. Teams include nurses and mental health therapists. This service is currently offered to the Westisle and Montague family of schools, with plans for province-wide expansion over the next two years.

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