Often neglected from discussions of high-cost healthcare users are children and youth with mental health issues. But when considered from the perspective of all of the various public and community services they require, and their impact on families, these children should be considered in initiatives to improve care for frequent healthcare users. For children with mental illness, because of the fragmented services they receive, there are clear opportunities for gains in patient care through better clinical and social care integration, even without significant additional investments. A key barrier to improving care for these children and youth is better understanding their care pathways. We conclude by describing a new multidisciplinary research project, which is taking an inter-sectorial view of how youth and their families access mental health services across the four Atlantic Canadian provinces, to provide the knowledge basis to improve care for these vulnerable, high-cost patients.
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