Background: Youth-friendly health care services can facilitate young people's access to health care services and promote their health, including their mental health. In Sweden, a network of youth health centers exist since the 1970s, incorporated within the public health system. Even if such centers take a holistic approach to youth health, the focus has been in sexual and reproductive health care, and the extent of integrating mental health care services is less developed though it varies notably between different centers. This study aims to analyse the various conditions that are sufficient and/or necessary to make Swedish youth health centers accessible for mental and psychosocial health.
Methods: Multiple case study design, using qualitative comparative analysis to assess the various conditions that makes a youth health center accessible for mental and psychosocial issues and mental health. The cases included 18 youth health centers (from a total of 22) in the four northern counties of Sweden.
Results: In order to enhance accessibility for mental health services, youth health centers need to be trusted by young people. Trust was necessary but not sufficient, meaning that it had to be combined with other conditions: either having a team with a variety of professions represented in the youth health center, or being a youth health center that is both easy to contact and well-staffed with mental health professionals.
Conclusions: Differentiated, first-line services for youth can play an important role in promoting youth mental health if certain conditions are fulfilled. Trust is necessary, but has to be combined with either multidisciplinary teams, or expertise on mental health and easy accessibility.