September 5, 2023
“We know youth are comfortable with using apps and using online platforms,” says Ella-Jean Schatzmann, who works out of the Addiction & Mental Health clinic in Bow Valley. “For us, it was just a little bit about catching up with that and really meeting our youth where they’re at, because this is the future.”Photo supplied.
Story by Shelley Rattray
For two years, EmmaLiese Thomsen has been getting help from Innowell, an e-Mental Health tool for designed for young adults, as part of the eMH Youth Research Project within Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the University of Calgary.
However, this isn’t the 19-year-old’s first experience with mental health assistance.
“I’ve been in therapy basically all my life,” she explains. “But I’m really supported with this tool.”
As a youth mental health advocate, Thomsen is actively involved in aiding others in their recovery. She collaborates with the AHS team to implement the Innowell tool in AHS Addiction & Mental Health (AMH) clinics and Primary Care Networks.
The Innowell e-mental health platform provides assessment tools, apps and e-tools along with online resources about clinical services. Young people between 15 and 24-years-old can use this tool through participating schools, physician clinics or community AMH clinics.
Innowell is currently available in 10 communities through 327 care providers. Young people, along with their care team, can access the platform which provides evidence-based supports including measurement-based care, digital supports and crisis options. “Using this tool is so rewarding because I can see how far I’ve come,” says Thomsen.
Innowell has also allowed the teen to use her time with clinicians in a different, more efficient way. “We can just jump right into things because I’ve been updating my progress and they’ve been able to see how I’ve been doing in between appointments.”
In addition to free apps, e-tools and resources, client progress is tracked and measured over time. Data is gathered and used collaboratively, by the provider and client together, to guide treatment and improve communication.
“We know youth are comfortable with using apps and using online platforms,” says Ella-Jean Schatzmann, who works out of the Addiction & Mental Health clinic in Bow Valley. “For us, it was just a little bit about catching up with that and really meeting our youth where they’re at, because this is the future. This is a really good opportunity to start to integrate technology in our care.
“We just know how important access is — and having goal-focused care is critical to that. This platform and these tools really help keep the care focused and prioritize the things that clients indicate matter the most. It’s a good tool to ensure that we’re maintaining that focus and the priorities that the youth indicate to us.”
Once the project concludes next June, the research and evaluation team will determine the impact of e-Mental Health as a support to existing systems. They will assess its impact on the experience of delivering and receiving care, clinical outcomes for youth and young adults, and mental health-related emergency department visits.
The project is funded by $1.9M by the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation, $1M from Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions, and $2M from the Alberta Health Addiction & Mental Health COVID-19 Response Grant. For the rollout, AHS Provincial Addiction & Mental Health and the University of Calgary are collaborating with Primary Care Networks, AHS Addiction and Mental Health, schools, community-based organizations and local youth.
Read more about the eMH Youth Research Project.