In BC, mental illness affects 1 in 4 young adults aged 15-24 years. At this stage, youth are typically completing school and/or skills training, and laying the foundation for a stable future. For youth with mental illness, challenges at school, home, and community are compounded by stigma and fragmented resources, resulting in low graduation rates, high unemployment, and poor health outcomes. Locally, the YMCA and Granville Youth Health Centre (GYHC) identified gaps in how youth with mental illness develop job skills and enter employment. They partnered to deliver an innovative program called Y-BEAT to provide employment support for this group. UBC has partnered with the YMCA and GYHC to test the effectiveness of Y-BEAT.
The 16-week Y-BEAT program offers health, social, and employment skills education, including supported job placement. It differs from other employment programs because it enables youth to concurrently achieve their employment goals while successfully self-managing their illness. GYHC offers integrated health and social services. The YMCA’s employment programs served 139 youth last year, of which 31% identified mental illness as the primary barrier to obtaining work. Y-BEAT brings together these existing services and will be offered 4 to 5 times/year over the next 3 years. In collaboration with the Y, GYHC, and participating youth, our project will measure health, social, and employment outcomes of youth, summarize lessons, and disseminate findings broadly.