Research Bulletin May 2018: Mental Health And Addictions

This month’s research bulletin focuses on research and analysis related to mental health and addictions and collects resources from Canada and Australia. In both countries, these issues are top of mind for politicians, researchers, and front-line practitioners.

The reports and summaries listed below discuss promising practices related to housing people with mental health and addiction issues, ways of translating youth mental health research into practice, a report on youth drug use and mortality, and in-depth review of the overdose crisis, as well as a report on BC’s Mental Health Act and mental health detention.

1. Translating Youth Mental Health Research into Practice
2. Promising Practices: 12 Case Studies in Supportive Housing for People with Mental Health and Addiction Issues
3. A Review of Illicit Drug Overdoses: Report to the Chief Coroner of BC
4. The Cedar Project: mortality among young Indigenous people who use drugs in British Columbia
5. Operating in Darkness: BC’s Mental Health Act Detention System

As you can see, some include promising practices, some suggest new interventions, and some suggest ways of translating research into practice—we want to share useful research and information in a useful way.

If you have feedback about how we can make these research bulletins more useful and/or if you want to suggest issues or service areas for us to pay attention to, please contact our Research and Policy Analyst.


1. Translating Youth Mental Health Research into Practice (Australia)

When it comes to youth mental health (as well as the overall mental health field) there is often a gap between new and ‘cutting-edge’ research and the front lines of mental health services and support. This short bulletin looks at ways of applying emerging knowledge on the ground in clinical practice.

The main focus is knowledge translation—trying to bridge that gap by assisting services and clinicians to implement best practices that are adapted to their particular context. Check out this bulletin for an overview of the key literature regarding what approaches and techniques are most effective for translating research evidence into practice in areas related to youth mental health.


2. Promising Practices: 12 Case Studies in Supportive Housing for People with Mental Health and Addiction Issues (Canada)

This resource guide (produced by Addictions and Mental Health Ontario, the Canadian Mental Health Association, and the Wellesley Institute) documents and reviews 12 examples of promising practices of housing-related supports for people with mental health and addiction issues.

The examples are all from Ontario but are replicable and/or adaptable examples of supportive housing practices that can be applied anywhere in Canada. And while each case study has a distinct approach, there are common themes across these twelve specific examples that can guide new interventions elsewhere. It also includes additional resources that can be borrowed and modified for use in other supportive housing programs.


3. A Review of Illicit Drug Overdoses: Report to the Chief Coroner of BC (Canada)

This report is the result of the British Columbia Coroners Service death review panel focused on illicit drug overdose deaths in the province. The review looks at the circumstances of overdose deaths over a 19-month period in order to determine what further actions are required to prevent illicit drug overdoses and overdose deaths.

The panel of authors was comprised of professionals with expertise in drugs and addictions, medicine, public health, regulatory practices, Indigenous health, child welfare, education, corrections and law enforcement and identified three key areas to focus on in order to reduce illicit drug overdose deaths in BC.


4. The Cedar Project: mortality among young Indigenous people who use drugs in British Columbia (Canada)

Young Indigenous people—particularly those involved in the child welfare system and those entrenched in substance use—are dying prematurely. This review examines mortality rates among young Indigenous people in BC and explores the most common causes and predictors of Indigenous youth mortality in order to save lives.

According to the authors, the mortality rates likely reflect complex intersections of historical and present-day injustices, substance use, and barriers to care. They argue that the “appalling” numbers must be viewed as both a public health and human rights issue and that additional (and accessible) trauma-informed programs which build on young people’s strengths and cultural identities are needed.


5. Operating in Darkness: BC’s Mental Health Act Detention System (Canada)

According to this extensive report, BC has allowed its mental health system to stagnate and “operate in darkness” resulting in BC being considered the most regressive jurisdiction in Canada when it comes to mental health detention and involuntary treatment. The stated goal of the report’s authors was to investigate and make public some of the most common and troubling components of this system.

The scope of this research project was extensive—from problematic legal criteria and decision-making processes to the use of restraints and seclusion, as well as treatment, oversight, and accountability—and it becomes clear that more investigation and “significant” action is necessary. The conclusion? BC’s Mental Health Act detention system does not just need a few amendments or tweaks, it needs to be completely overhauled.