The Government of Canada and partners establish a Canada-wide network to support integrated mental health and substance use services for youth

News release

The Integrated Youth Services Network of Networks connects integrated youth service hubs across Canada to create a learning health system to improve health outcomes for youth

November 28, 2022 – Toronto, ON – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Research shows that 75% of mental illness begins before age 25. There is a need to make sure that young people have the mental health and substance use support they need, when and where they need it.

Communities across the country are already helping youth through Integrated Youth Services (IYS) sites. Now is the time to connect these sites that provide youth with equitable access to a range of health and social services that contribute to their health — primary care, peer support, work and study supports and more.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced up to $18 million in funding for projects related to integrated mental health and substance use services for youth. As part of this investment, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is investing $1 million to establish a pan-Canadian “network of networks” known as the Integrated Youth Services Network of Networks (IYS-Net). An additional $15+ million will be provided by CIHR and philanthropic partners to expand IYS-Net across the country. Health Canada is also providing nearly $2 million in funding to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to work with IYS-Net and other partners to develop an Integrated Youth Services National Data Framework and Infrastructure.

IYS-Net will be a collaborative effort between the Government of Canada, partners and researchers across provinces, territories, and Indigenous communities to help youth access the services they need. The initiative will create a network of learning health systems through which research evidence, data, and youths’ lived experience are used to inform processes, policies, and practices to improve health equity and service delivery.

The goal of the IYS National Data Framework and Infrastructure project is to collect consistent data across provincial IYS networks. This investment will establish common measures, evaluation frameworks, governance, and digital platform infrastructure. This work will contribute to improved understanding of youth service needs and outcomes, help build and test new services, and help services pivot more effectively when crises arise. The investment will also aid in the shaping of future IYS programs, including services designed specifically to meet the needs of marginalized youth.


“Young people have always faced challenges as they deal with the changes in their lives. Over the past years, their mental health and substance use challenges have been exacerbated by the stresses and social disruption of the pandemic. Integrated Youth Services is a proven model that can lead to improved health outcomes. By supporting IYS-Net in its objective to bring together diverse services and perspectives from youth, care providers, partners, researchers, and people with lived and living experience will we ensure that all youth have the opportunity to receive the integrated care that they need to thrive, grow, and succeed.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“Ontario has always been a strong advocate for Integrated Youth Services. The IYS model plays a key role in our $3.8 billion, 10-year Roadmap to Wellness by lowering barriers of access and providing upstream investments that create safe spaces for young Ontarians. By connecting our 22 Hubs to other Integrated Youth Service providers across the country we are proud to contribute to IYS-Net’s shared data infrastructure, aiding researchers and policy makers in making informed decisions on how we can ensure that our children and youth will grow into healthy adults”.

The Honourable Michael A Tibollo
Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

“It has taken a decade of collaboration and partnerships to get here, building on the amazing foundation of ACCESS Open Minds, Foundry, Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario and Aire ouverte. CIHR's IYS-Net will bring together all 13 provinces and territories to help create the first ever pan-Canadian learning health system, using research, data and the living experiences of youth themselves, to transform access to evidence-informed, integrated services for all youth in Canada. The goal is that, when completed, not a single youth between the age of twelve and twenty-five will be left without access to the health and social services they need the most. Youth will determine their own healthy future, by being at the center of it.”

Dr. Samuel Weiss
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health, and Addiction

“Integrated Youth Services (IYS) are leading the way in providing Canadian youth with easily accessible, culturally relevant mental health services. With our partners the Bell-GBF Partnership and RBC Future Launch, we are delighted to support the IYS-Net initiative, which is aimed at ensuring that IYS achieves its full potential for equitable access and outcomes for young people and their families. IYS-Net takes a ‘learning health system’ approach, using data and lived experience to generate and mobilize knowledge for more effective youth services. This approach holds great promise for improving the quality of youth mental health services across the country.”

Ian Boeckh
President, Graham Boeckh Foundation

"The Indigenous Network within IYS-Net builds upon significant efforts by ACCESS Open Minds and in particular its Indigenous Council and allows important growth in relationships and collaborations with Indigenous and IYS partners throughout Canada. It provides an opportunity to continue developing and supporting community-driven, culturally appropriate, and timely mental health supports for Indigenous young people.”

Dr. Christopher Mushquash
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction, Lakehead University

“Building on a collaboration involving the Ministry of Health and Social Services, youth, families, carers, service providers, community organizations and researchers from across Quebec, IYS-Net will strengthen collaborations and networking around Aire ouverte, Québec’s network of integrated youth services (IYS). I am delighted that Aire ouverte, that targets 12 to 25 year olds, aims to improve access to youth-friendly services, particularly for vulnerable and traditionally underserved groups. In this, Aire ouverte is like the pan-Canadian ACCESS Open Minds youth mental health network, CIHR’s first Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research initiative launched in 2014. It is inspiring that Canadian youth mental health is now achieving critical mass and synergies through IYS-Net, which unites all provincial IYS and the Indigenous network.”

Srividya N. Iyer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University
Researcher, Douglas Research Centre

“We know a quarter of youth in Canada are affected by mental health and/or substance use concerns. We believe that Canadian youth deserve easy access to community supports for these concerns. This funding from CIHR presents an opportunity to work with partner organizations from across Canada to develop a Learning Health System that will improve the lives of young people in British Columbia and beyond. On behalf of everyone at Foundry, we are incredibly grateful to the federal government for their investment in Integrated Youth Services in Canada, and for the ongoing support of the Government of BC, Providence Healthcare, St Paul’s Foundation and the University of British Columbia.  We also acknowledge that this good work would not be possible without the commitment of young people and caregivers working to improve our health care system.

We share in this excitement with our IYS partners across Canada. Together, we are transforming and continuously improving health and wellness outcomes for young people and families/caregivers across Canada.”  

Dr. Steve Mathias, Executive Director and Dr. Skye Barbic, Head Scientist

“Youth and their families deserve access to high quality services that are co-designed with youth and families, and lead to positive and equitable outcomes for youth throughout Canada.  IYS-Net will allow us to develop new and inclusive approaches to support youth effectively. The partnerships across government and philanthropy that have made these investments possible demonstrate a shared recognition of the critical importance of supporting youth to succeed and thrive. Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario is grateful for the vision of these partners and their commitment to youth and families.”

Dr. Jo Henderson
Executive Director, Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) and Director, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth and Family Mental Health

“The IYS National Data Framework and Infrastructure project is the first step in establishing a nationwide secure and scalable platform that will enable the real-time exchange of mental health data and accelerate knowledge sharing in a pan-Canadian learning health system for youth mental health”.

Dr. Sean Hill
Director, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Krembil Centre for Neuroinformatics

Quick facts

  • IYS is often referred to as a guiding set of principles for delivering care to youth, typically in the age range of 12 to 25 years.

  • IYS often include such services as:

    • mental health services
    • substance use counselling
    • primary care
    • peer and family support services
    • sexual health services
    • work and study supports
    • assistance navigating the health care system
    • housing and other social community services
    • traditional Indigenous healing and cultural practices
  • IYS-Net is being developed through a partnership between CIHR, the Graham Boeckh Foundation, the Bell-GBF Partnership, and the RBC Foundation through RBC Future Launch, with new partners to be brought on board as IYS-Net evolves.

  • The three most established provincial networks for IYS will receive this initial funding of $1 million: Foundry (British Columbia), Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (Ontario), and Aire ouverte (Quebec), as well as an Indigenous Network drawn from ACCESS Open Minds sites in First Nation and Inuit communities where research and service delivery is guided by a well-established Indigenous Council.

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Maja Staka
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

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