Kickstand Connect – Virtual Mental Health Clinic for Youth

The Cause

The need for urgent attention to the crisis of youth mental health has been in existence for years. Currently, pathways to care can be disconnected, confusing, lengthy, and often traumatic. There is a significant and persistent gap between identified service needs of young people living with mental health concerns and their abilities to access services.
In response to this crisis, deepened by the recent pandemic, the Mental Health Foundation has launched an Integrated Youth Services program through the virtual platform, Kickstand Connect. Kickstand Connect is rolling out through 2022, and will provide virtual counselling and services, accessible by computer or mobile device and an internet connection.

Kickstand Connect aims to appeal to youth aged 12-24 in the communication medium favoured by their generation. It provides a degree of privacy and discretion that may encourage those hesitant to seek help to reach out for the first time. It also transcends issues of rural isolation that might impede access.

Kickstand includes core services in the areas of primary care, mental health services, substance use services, youth and family peer support and social services. Core services will be aimed at prevention, early identification, early intervention and providing care to youth and young adults experiencing challenges with their mental health and/or substance use. Social services may be provided by local or regional providers through collaborative partnerships and agreements and may include, but are not limited to housing, employment, income assistance, food security, social and recreation activities, and specific cultural, immigrant and education services.

Meeting the need for high-quality, immediate care for those in crisis is of utmost importance to Kickstand Connect. Currently, our current funding supports 2 days a week (832 hours a year). Funds from the Field Law Community Law Program would go towards providing more professional counselling service hours for Alberta’s youth.

Your contribution will help expand Kickstand’s mission of creating a centralized hub for mental health and community support services “all under one roof.” Your donation would enable young people and their families find the help they need more of the time; freely and accessibly in all communities across the province.
Together we can ensure that Alberta’s children and families have more good days ahead.

Who Will it Benefit?

Kickstand Connect services are designed to be fully accessible to youth aged 12-25 in Alberta by removing barriers to entry - offering zero-cost/low-cost services, and empowering youth to access support in their own environment. This is especially significant for youth in remote, rural, isolated, marginalized, or unsafe communities, where Kickstand’s virtual clinic removes the stigma associated with walking into a physical clinic and low-barrier care can be provided via mobile devices and/or computer and an internet connection.

In addition, families, caregivers, schools and communities will benefit from early mental health intervention – before a young person disengages from school or work, before relationships with family and friends are damaged, before the 911 call.

The majority of substance use and mental health issues develop between the ages of 12-24 years old, with 75% of mental disorders emerging by age 24. Young people are susceptible to all types of mental illness, with anxiety and depression being the most prevalent, followed by problematic substance use.

Although 18% of young people aged 15-24 years report experiencing mental illness or problematic substance use, less than 25% of these youth receive addiction and mental health support. Untreated mental health problems among adolescents are associated with low educational achievement, unemployment, substance use, risk-taking behaviours, crime, poor sexual and reproductive health, self-harm and inadequate self-care - all of which increase the lifetime risk of morbidity and premature mortality.

We strongly feel that early intervention benefits individuals and society as a whole.