Integrating collective action and improvement science frameworks is essential for developing focused strategies to achieve optimal mental health outcomes for youth. The challenges to identify and meet the needs of youth are complex – often extending beyond the boundaries of any one system, organization, or profession, as well as contextually situated with unique considerations based on population or community.

Collaboration between practitioners, policymakers, community members, and service users and their families is necessary to improve youth mental health outcomes. In 2001, the National Advisory Mental Health Council identified the insularity between disciplines involved in youth mental health research, as well as fragmentation of service systems, which translate research into practice, as significant barriers to meaningfully meeting the mental health needs of youth. Some 20 years later, these barriers continue to undermine progress. However, by collaboratively engaging in early intervention approaches and practices, there are new and expanded opportunities to co-create service systems to improve mental health outcomes for youth.

The National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice’s (NCYOJ’s) experiences in youth mental health have been integrated with literature to offer solution-oriented strategies for facilitating interdisciplinary teams focused on achieving optimal youth mental health outcomes. Merging collective action and improvement science frameworks serves as the basis for the strategies that follow.

The NCYOJ originally developed and maintained this resource. The NCYOJ was operated by Policy Research, Inc. and operated from 2001 to 2022 and was formerly known as the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. The NCYOJ improved life opportunities for youth through systems and practice improvement initiatives.

This resource should be viewed as a reference document. It has not been updated since its publication. In addition, this document has not been made 508 compliant. If you would like a 508 compliant version of this document, please email

This resource was first shared in 2022.

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