How can mental health care services be integrated in youth clinics? A health policy and systems study
Strengthening first line mental health care services for youth remains a top priority for the Swedish society and government.
Since evidence of what works remains scarce, the government is currently investigating how the different sectors involved could strengthen their role and coordination between them and with specialized services. Youth clinics play a key role in these discussions, since they are one of the most trusted services for youth. However, analysis of organizational functions and coordination with other services is important if youth clinics are to strengthen their role as first line mental health care providers. This study takes on these challenges and aims to analyse and understand the integration of mental health care within youth clinics with the intention to
drawing out shared lessons, strategies and working procedures to strengthen first line mental health care for youth in Sweden.
This study adopts a health policy and systems approach. In a first phase, we will conduct a formative realist evaluation to ascertain what works in terms of integrating mental health care services within youth clinics, for what type of youth subpopulations, and under what circumstances. National level stakeholders will be interviewed to elicit the programme theory that explains how the intervention is supposed to work. Afterwards the programme theory will be put into test in 6-10 models involving youth clinics (the cases). Quantitative and qualitative information will be gathered, including visual methodologies and thick descriptions of cases produced and analysed. The second phase will consist on a concept mapping study, engaging stakeholders and young people to build consensus on strategies to strengthen youth clinics' integration of mental health care. Lessons learned will serve to strengthen first line mental health care for youth in Sweden and in similar settings where differentiated services for youth that integrate mental health care are being developed.