Integrated Youth Services

What are Integrated Youth Services (IYS)?

Integrated Youth Services (IYS) is a dynamic movement across Canada and internationally that aims to build effective, youth-focused, and integrated services to address mental health, substance use, and related concerns among youth aged 12 to 25 years.

IYS in Canada are demonstrating a global path forward in the implementation of evidence-based practices, evidence-generating practices, and the development of an equity and engagement-centred integrated data platform infrastructure and associated governance models. 


IYS is a Global Movement

IYS is a global movement that supports a dynamic approach to building effective integrated youth mental health systems. It is led by various organizations around the world, including:

IYS-Net is a Transformative Learning Health System

IYS-Net is a network of IYS research networks, with a vision of transforming mental health and substance use service delivery for and with young people throughout Canada. Operating as a Learning Health System (LHS), IYS-Net will support youth, families, service providers, researchers, and policymakers to work together to innovate and achieve better outcomes in youth mental health.

There have been major developments in the Canadian youth mental health system as many provinces transform their networks to provide full-service systems for youth.

IYS provincial and territorial service initiatives have also come together into a Federation of IYS Networks (FIYSN). FIYSN members are focused on exchanging knowledge and have articulated a set of ten shared principles.


What is a Learning Health System?


Ten Principles for Integrated Youth Services (IYS):


1. Engaging youth and families

Engage youth and family members/caregivers/supporters in development, co-creation, decision making and governance.
Collaborative partnerships

2. Collaborative

Services are delivered through effective, collaborative partnerships.
Accessible care

3. Accessible

Services are easy to find and access, have low or no barriers and are experienced as a seamless continuum.

4. Youth-Centred

Services are youth-friendly, developmentally appropriate, strength and relationship based , and inclusive of all youth.
Responsive to evolving needs

5. Responsive

Services are responsive to stated needs and respectful of choice/self-determination.
Culturally Safe

6. Culturally Safe

Services are culturally safe, recognize intersectionality, and able to support Indigenous youth.
Socially Just

7. Socially Just

Commit to social justice through anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and decolonizing practices.
Wholistic approach

8. Wholistic

Take a wholistic, trauma-informed and harm reduction approach.
Health equity

9. Health

Intervene early and promote health and health equity.
Learn and Improve

10. Learn & Improve

Continuously learn and improve through the use of data, research, evidence and wisdom.

How does the IYS model address the gaps in the system?

  1. Addresses access barriers
  2. Emphasizes access to intervention
  3. Enhances accountability through measurement-based care (MBC)
  4. Values service experience, emphasizing identity affirming and developmentally appropriate services
  5. Focuses on integrated, holistic, seamless care

Integrated Youth Services (IYS) Networks in Ontario

YWHO is a network of 22 youth wellness hub networks, that are integrated service networks for youth aged 12-25. These hubs address local needs related to mental health, substance use, primary care, education, employment, housing, peer support, outreach, system navigation, and other community and social programming.

This model aims to:

  • improve transitions into different healthcare models or systems of care;
  • remove barriers for youth to access the treatment they need; and,
  • reduce waiting time for youth as a walk-in site that facilitates early intervention and emphasizes age-appropriate evidence-based care.

YWHO's Core Components

The YWHO Model

The YWHO Model is an Integrated Youth Services (IYS) model that supports communities in bringing together existing services to work together in a new way to provide youth and families access to high-quality, developmentally appropriate services at the right time and in the right place.

Integrated Youth Services (IYS) is a dynamic movement across Canada and internationally that aims to build effective, youth-focused and integrated services to address mental health, substance use, and related concerns among youth aged 12 to 25 years. 

YWHO is taking critical steps towards transforming Ontario's mental health and substance use services with and for youth and improving outcomes that are important to youth and families. 


Learn more

The YWHO model offers:

  • Rapid access to easily identifiable mental health and substance use services with walk-in, low-barrier services and clear service pathways;
  • The co-creation of services with youth & families;
  • Evidence-based interventions matched to individuals’ level of need;
  • Transitions to specialized care services when appropriate;
  • Integration of services offered in a youth-friendly space;
  • Virtual care options to complement in-person services
  • Reduction of transitions between services through co-location and;
  • Common data evaluation across sites.

Core Components