OTTAWA -- The Youth Services Bureau, CHEO and Le Cap are aiming to address a service gap for youth in Ottawa with complex mental health needs with the launch of a new bilingual live-in treatment program.

The three partners of the Kids Come First Health Team unveiled a program called Step Up Step Down for treatment between hospitalizations and community care.

"Step Up Step Down is all about working to create better, faster access to the right care at the right time for youth and families," said Joanne Lowe, executive director of YSB and vice-president of mental health and addictions and CHEO.

"For youth with complex mental health needs, we want to give them and their families an option other than hospitalizations."

Step Up Step Down will be for youth aged 12 to 17 with complex mental health needs. It will support youth in the transition home from an inpatient hospital stay and from community-based support to manage a deterioration in mental health.

The program will provide short-term stabilization and intensive individualized treatment for up to 30 days.

CHEO says its inpatient services have been operating at maximum capacity for several years.  The proportion of children and youth coming to the emergency department for self-harm and self-injury is up by 50 per cent this school year over last.

The program is being funded by the Ministry of Health, through in-kind and collaborative partnerships with other services, and donations to the YSB Foundation.

Le Cap provides Ontario Francophones with improved access to a continuum of mental health, addiction and concurrent disorder services. The Youth Services Bureau offers more than 30 programs in areas of youth engagement, housing and homelessness, mental health, youth justice and employment.