What works for work? Evaluating vocational interventions for youth with mental health or substance use problems

Youth with mental health and substance use problems can struggle to achieve vocational goals like staying in school or getting a job. To find out what programs exist to help youth, we systematically searched the research literature for studies that evaluated vocational interventions for youth with mental health and substance use problems. We collected information on whether these interventions helped youth get jobs, pursue their studies, and other related measures. We found several vocational interventions for youth have been tested, but most of them are either not common or not standardized. The next step of the project is to solicit opinions from youth and families and care providers about what they consider important in the design of a vocational intervention, and what are the best ways to measure its success. We will have members of the audience to share their ideas and encourage them to formally participate in the survey.

Presenters and slide deck

Karanveer Banipal, Research assistant, Douglas Research Centre

Karan (he/him) is a Research Assistant at Douglas Research Centre. Karan currently works in youth mental health research evaluating the impact of vocational interventions on employment. Prior to this, Karan has worked in infectious disease research research at Public Health Ontario as well as in pediatric research at SickKids. Karan holds a Masters degree in Public Health and an undergraduate degree in health sciences. Outside of work, Karan volunteers with a crisis line and as a facilitator for a bereavement group.

Sofia Danna

Sofia Danna (she/her) is a Research Assistant at the Douglas Research Centre in Montreal. As a data nerd with lived experience, it is Sofia’s dream come true to work in mental health research on projects related to youth, care services, and determinants of health. Sofia holds a M.Sc. in Epidemiology from McGill University. Outside of work, Sofia has been getting through the pandemic by reading about antiracism and listening to Latin alternative music.

Charles-Albert Morin


Key Learnings

  • Youth living with mental health challenges often want to participate in employment or education.
  • A systematic review of the literature found that several vocational interventions exist that support youth with achieving employment or education outcomes.
  • We are conducting a survey to hear from stakeholders about what interventions are being offered across Canada and what challenges are faced in implementing these programs.

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