Catalyst Grant : Standards for Children and Youth Mental Health Services – Full Application

Well-being, Health and Biomedical Discovery


Academic Unit: Inquire with Unit

Memorial Deadline: Monday 19th, September 2022

External Deadline: Thursday 22nd, September 2022



There are many unknowns about how standards for services (i.e., organizational standards, best practices, or guiding principles) translate into routine practice and influence health outcomes. Research is needed to understand what standards already exist for mental health and substance use health services, how these are interpreted by providers and organizations to improve care, and which methods work best for promoting their uptake across diverse populations and sectors of care. The Government of Canada has recently identified an emphasis on youth and health equity as priority areas for developing pan-Canadian standards for mental health and substance use health.

This funding opportunity supports research to inform standards specific to mental health and/or substance use health services for children, youth, and young adults (ages 0 to 25), including the perinatal period. Children, youth, and young adults, and their caregivers/families, access mental health and/or substance use health services across various sectors in various settings, most commonly in primary care, schools, and community organizations. Unfortunately, many children, youth, young adults, and families also access mental health services for the first time through other sectors, such as child welfare settings, juvenile justice or correctional settings, and hospital emergency departments. Research shows underserved children and youth, such as those who are Black or racialized or Indigenous, face disproportionate challenges to accessing mental health services and are more likely to access care through these other sectors. The sector and setting for the delivery of mental health and/or substance use health services is a key consideration for the eventual implementation of pan-Canadian standards. This funding opportunity therefore supports needed research and knowledge mobilization on existing standards across various settings where children, youth, and/or young adults access services.


This funding opportunity forms part of the National Standards for Mental Health Services (NSMHS) initiative, a Government of Canada priority outlined in Budget 2021. The NSMHS initiative — in partnership with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, and in collaboration with provinces and territories, health organizations and key stakeholders — represents a 45-million-dollar federal investment to support the development of pan-Canadian standards for mental health and substance use health services. The goal of setting pan-Canadian standards is to ensure all Canadians have access to equitable, timely, and evidence-based care where and when they need it. To this end, the Government of Canada is partnering with the Standards Council of Canada to coordinate the development of these standards.

This funding opportunity represents the third and final opportunity from the NSMHS initiative. Through the first, research projects are addressing standards for virtual delivery of care in various contexts and across age groups. The second funding opportunity is addressing research on standards specific to Integrated Youth Services among certain networks in Canada.

The overarching objective of this funding opportunity is to address the pressing needs of underserved youth populations, and their caregivers/families, in accessing equitable mental health and substance use services through research on standards in various settings. This funding opportunity will support projects that focus on standards or guiding principles in mental health and/or substance use health services, including in virtual delivery of care, for children, youth, and young adults (ages 0 to 25; including the perinatal period), within or across a variety of settings (see Research Areas, below). Research relevant to the workforce or providers who support children, youth, young adults, and/or their caregivers/families in these sectors is also applicable (e.g., standards relevant to training).

All funding opportunities from this initiative aim to embed evidence into pan-Canadian policy and decision-making regarding standards. Proposed research should therefore be relevant to decision makers who are in positions to make decisions about the delivery of mental health and substance use health services. Projects must engage decision makers in the research process with the goal to produce results that can be applied and adapted to specific settings, and have the potential to improve health outcomes of Canadians. Strengthening Canada’s health systems through health equity, and evidence-informed decision making, are key features of CIHR’s strategic plan.

Research Approaches

The process of setting mental health standards can be informed by evidence generated through a Learning Health Systems (LHS) approach. A LHS is a health system in which research, data, and experience generate knowledge and evidence that is embedded in and applied to processes, policies and practices to continuously innovate and improve health equity, service delivery and cost, as well as improve the experience for service providers and people accessing services (e.g., children and youth, families, caregivers, etc.). Effective LHS for mental health and substance use health services require further research.

This funding opportunity will support projects which align with at least one of these LHS processes or research approaches:

  • Data science (practice to data)
    • Examples: applying common data approaches to measure adherence to existing standards or best practices; adapting measurement tools through a health equity lens to inform standards; testing interoperable or linked data approaches; identifying core outcome measures and individual–level costing data; matching services to needs based on data.
  • Knowledge syntheses and creation (data to knowledge)
    • Examples: knowledge syntheses on existing standards, including what is known about youth and caregiver/family engagement for developing standards; comparative policy analyses on existing standards at a provincial, national, and/or global scale; evaluations of services and programming to inform standards.
  • Implementation science and knowledge mobilization (knowledge to practice)
    • Examples: implementation science research (e.g., identifying barriers and/or facilitators to the uptake of existing standards into routine practice, evaluations of implementation strategies); mobilizing knowledge about existing standards among relevant stakeholders (e.g., youth and caregivers/families, clinicians, decision-makers).

Research Areas

In addition to one of the Research Approaches above, applications must also be relevant to at least one of the following research areas:

  • Community settings
  • Primary care settings
  • Education and school settings
  • Child welfare settings
  • Juvenile justice or correctional settings
  • Indigenous-led settings
  • Other specialized mental health and/or substance use settings

Projects must focus on services for children, youth, and/or young adults (ages 0 to 25; including the perinatal period), which may include caregivers/families

Additional information can be found here.

Funding Sources

Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)

This opportunity was posted by: RGCS

Last modified: August 2, 2022