Background: Caregivers experience significant strains as a result of navigating the complex mental health and/or addiction (MHA) system for their youth with MHA issues. We examined the characteristics of Ontario families with youth with MHA issues and their service needs.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey study investigated the characteristics and service needs of families with youth with MHA issues across the province of Ontario, Canada. A total of 840 caregivers were recruited.
Results: 259 participants (Mage = 45.94, SD = 7.11) identified as caregiving for at least one youth with MHA issues. The majority of the participants were female (70.7%), married (73.4%), and completed at least some college/Bachelor degree (59.1%). The mean age of youth was 16.72 years (SD = 5.33) and the most frequently reported diagnoses were Depression (30.1%), ADHD (27.8%) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (21.2%). Regression results demonstrated that presently accessing services, presently seeking services, and higher levels of barriers MHA services were significantly predictive of identifying navigation as helpful for finding appropriate MHA services (2(7) = 28.69, p < .001, Nagelkerke R2 = .16). Furthermore, presently accessing services was significantly predictive of identifying case management as helpful (2(7) = 29.59, p < .001, Nagelkerke R2 = .156), and of identifying a primary healthcare provider as helpful (2(7) = 38.75, p < .001, Nagelkerke R2 = .197) for finding appropriate MHA services.
Conclusion: Identifying the nature and extent of youth MHA issues, service needs, and family preferences can inform the development of services that address families' needs and lend vital support for accessing services within a complex system.