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Improving access to mental health assessments and resources for youth in mental health crisis with HEARTSMAP

HEARTSMAP, an online tool for clinicians developed by a PHSA researcher, has been adopted at 50 emergency departments across British Columbia to help ensure timely and effective care for youth in mental health crisis.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 10 to 20 per cent of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder, and only one in five kids receive the treatment they need. With limited resources available for diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, families have become increasingly dependent on emergency department clinicians to assess mental health concerns.

HEARTSMAP, an online emergency psychosocial assessment and management tool to support clinicians treating children and youth in mental health crisis, is now improving access to mental health assessments for children treated in emergency departments across BC. The online tool was developed in response to a lack of specialized pediatric mental health care and an increased need for more accurate and consistent assessment of mental health issues in the emergency department.  

Created by researchers from BC Children’s Hospital, the online tool equips clinicians with a standardized, effective approach to assess and respond to the mental-health needs of kids. It provides the clinician with guiding questions to collect key information from the patient. The data collected is used to identify areas of concern and provide clinicians with recommendations and an action-plan. This enables the clinician to provide timely care tailored to the specific needs of each patient. 

HEARTSMAP is helping to empower youth and their families and equipping them with the information and community resources they need by ensuring timely and effective care and reducing stress for patients and families who come to the emergency department for treatment. The tool is now implemented and being evaluated at 50 emergency departments across the province.

Pictured above: HEARTSMAP is led by Dr. Quynh Doan, investigator and pediatric emergency physician at BC Children’s Hospital, and associate professor with the UBC Department of Pediatrics. 

Learn more about HEARTSMAP on

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