Results of 4 years of research-action in transition psychiatry
Calling into question present (child) psychiatry models, the Chair's work has made it possible to better understand the needs of young people during the stage of life when they are more at risk, to initiate specific pathways to compensate for the interruption of care and also to innovate and offer care adapted to young people at this pivotal age for their future and their mental health.
Four years of intense work have enabled the Transition Psychiatry Chair at the Université Libre de Bruxelles to link research and action. The importance to society of paying particular attention to the mental health of 16- to 23-year-olds has been highlighted with a series of multisectoral recommendations issued. Calling into question present (child) psychiatry models, the Chair's work has made it possible to better understand the needs of young people during the stage of life when they are more at risk, to initiate specific pathways to compensate for the interruption of care and also to innovate and offer care adapted to young people at this pivotal age for their future and their mental health.
Four major conclusions: flexibility, sharing, involvement and cooperation
After these four years of intense cooperation and research, the Transition Psychiatry Chair working group formulated at its closing conference on 1/09/23 a series of recommendations that transcend sectors, ages limits and frontiers as we currently know them in psychiatry.
For young people between 16 and 24 years old, it is essential to:
1/ Provide accessible, flexible and youth-friendly care;
2/ Share the experiences and expertise of "child/adolescent" psychiatrists and "adult" psychiatrists;
3/ Involve young people in the provision of care and deciding of policy;
4/ Ensure cooperation between "child/adolescent" networks and "adult" networks.
A number of specific initiatives adopted at the Chair's instigation
Thanks to its innovative approach to research-action and a sharing of information across the board as and when progress is made, the Chair made it possible to achieve four goals simultaneously: pursuing research projects alongside developments in teaching while highlighting the sharing of knowledge and social impact in connection with transition in psychiatry. Specifically, the Chair's work made it possible to widen collaborations at the various levels of the French-speaking Community and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, within the Hautes-écoles and within the Universities of ULG, UCL and UMons by creating research cooperation and conferences on the subject, including the creation of a network of French-speaking partners for transition. An university certificate about transition was also created in 2022-2023 with 7 teaching modules at crossroads between medicine, psychology, social assistance, etc. In terms of knowledge sharing, the team also used a YouTube channel and social networks in addition to traditional scientific publications and annual conferences to present their results, to which the Chair's working groups contributed and that were shared between them. As regards patients, the ideas were enriched, discussed and questioned by young people who contributed their expertise as patients, a method developed to create winning pathways for involving peers. In addition, a new outpatient clinic for 16-24 year old patients was opened in 2019 at the four Brussels sites headed by the Chair (HUDERF, CHU Brugmann, Hôpital Erasme, SSM-ULB), facilitating access to mental healthcare.
An intersectoral interest in recognising and supporting a young population at risk
As stressed by Federal Health Minister Franck Vandenbroucke, the politicians also share responsibility for implementing the necessary protocols, providing funding and training to back up a policy that is able to provide the appropriate preventive and curative support and also for facilitating employment within the risk population and promoting increased awareness of mental health. At the institutional level, the action points concern information systems (a shared computerized document encourages correct follow-up and sharing) as well as the importance of flexibility on the part of institutions and care staff to favour adapting structures to the needs of young people at the transition age (and not vice versa). With flexible limits, treating the particular characteristics of patients and encouraging patient involvement as well as the importance of a preventive and early approach to young people's mental health. The interesting variety of intersectoral initiatives presented at the conference shows that change is underway both in academic research and in the field.
Investing more in preventive strategies and early action
"We thank all those with an interest in or who actively participated in pushing back the frontiers of our knowledge of mental health and the transition age for the benefits and impact of their collaborations in regard to the health of young people. Thank you in particular to all our patients whose contributions were extremely illuminating in a number of areas," said Professor Véronique Delvenne. "Many challenges remain in the clinical and research fields. We are pleased to have contributed to a better understanding of the specific psychopathology of young people of transition age. Collectively pursuing the adaptation of mental health care models and permitting innovation remains a challenge but the doors are open. To still better target and meet the needs of young people of transition age, to involve them in the joint decision-making processes and to invest in prevention in terms of mental health is also to invest in society's future," she concluded.
About the Transition Chair
With financing of 600.000 euros for 3 years by the King Baudouin Foundation, the Julie Renson Fund and the Queen Fabiola Fund, the working group was set up in 2019 within a partnership between child psychiatry and adult psychiatry at the four partner institutions – Prof. Véronique Delvenne (HUDERF), Prof. Charles Kornreich (CHU Brugmann), Prof. Marie Delhaye (Erasmus Hospital) and Prof. Hélène Nicolis (SSM-ULB). A team of researchers in (child) psychiatry participated actively in the project: Dr Simone Marchini, Dr Joana Reis, Dr Anthony De Leeuw, Dr Anaïs Mungo, Dr Betul Tedik, Dr Thimoty Hennebicq, Dr Samy Koslowitz, Dr Marie Poncelet and Miss Ella Ben Shaool.
See the programme and the presentations of the day dedicated to the conclusions of the Psychiatry Chair, held on 1 September 2023:
YouTube channel: Transition_psy ULB - YouTube
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