Enhancing access, quality, and equity in mental health care for children and adolescents

With a vision to improve the lives of children and youth and help instigate sector-wide transformations in how child mental health care is delivered in Greece, in 2021 the Health Initiative launched an ambitious five-year program in partnership with U.S.-based Child Mind Institute and a country-wide Network of child mental health professionals. The aim is to enhance mental health care capacity and strengthen the infrastructure for prevention, assessment and treatment of mental health struggles faced during childhood and adolescence.

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Initiative (CAMHI) was launched in early 2021 as a five-year program to help enhance mental health care capacity for children and adolescents and strengthen infrastructure for the prevention, assessment, and treatment of mental health struggles faced by children and youth in Greece. The initiative is part of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Health Initiative, implemented in collaboration with the Hellenic Ministry of Health.

“Mental health services should not be a luxury or a privilege reserved for only a few, but a given for anyone who needs them, starting in childhood.” - Andreas Dracopoulos, SNF Co-President
With exclusive support from SNF, design and implementation of the CAMHI is unfolding on the basis of a collaborative model involving a diverse team from the U.S.-based Child Mind Institute and a network of Greek professionals specializing in child mental health and psychosocial care. The model is intended to allow for cocreation and cross-pollination between local and international expertise, with a view to building ground-up resources in ways that can reinforce the critical work done by providers across the country.

Aiming to increase young people’s access to evidence-based mental health care, to raise mental health literacy and awareness, to help fight stigma, and to build out technological capacity for delivering tools and care digitally, the CAMHI’s work includes:

1.The design and rollout of evidence-based training programs and of accessible mental health resources for families and stakeholder communities. The trainings will comprise a suite of modules and courses customized to the needs of different groups of professionals, from health and mental health professionals to teachers, educators, and social care providers supporting children in their day-to-day work.
2. The establishment of Network on Child and Adolescent Mental Health, with hubs in Alexandroupoli, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Athens, and Crete, to enhance national capacity and address the diverse and context-specific needs present in different parts of the country, including in remote and underserved settings.
3. The development of digital tools and technology in tele-mental health, to complement efforts to make care more accessible in remote and under-resourced areas.
4. The promotion of youth engagement as integral in the design and implementation of the CAMHI, providing safe, structured, and innovative platforms for young people’s voices to be heard.

The program will be informed by ongoing research which, as a first step, is focused on a comprehensive landscape analysis mapping the context and needs of the national child mental health sector and will also include tools for tracking CAMHI’s impact across different phases of implementation over the project’s five years.