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The funding will be used in part to used to identify gaps in the delivery of youth mental health services. (iStock)

Four universities in Atlantic Canada are getting $2.5 million from the federal government to study mental health services for youth.

The money going to four researchers at the University of New Brunswick, Saint Mary's University, the University of Prince Edward Island and Memorial University, will be used to set up a web portal for families to help them get access to services, according to UNB's Scott Ronis.

It will also be used to identify gaps in the delivery of services and to give government and practitioners a better idea of what works, he said.

But a woman who has lobbied for improved services says the province already has model programs in Charlotte County and on the Acadian Peninsula.

Maureen Bilerman, whose daughter is bipolar, said the money would be better spent evaluating those programs and helping to roll them out across the region.

'We need to take the best research and recommendations we have — and it is good research — and move forward and start action on those recommendations.'—Maureen Bilerman, Dots NB

"We need to take the best research and recommendations we have — and it is good research — and move forward and start action on those recommendations," said Bilerman, the co-founder of Dots NB.

New Brunswick Health Minister Ted Flemming has said his government is committed to continued improvements to mental health care services in the province.

The provincial government does have a plan to transform mental health care in New Brunswick that was announced in May 2011.

In 2009, provincial court Judge Michael McKee issued a report, which called for sweeping changes to the province's mental health system.

Among the 80 recommendations, McKee urged the provincial government to invest in early intervention, income support measures and to place a greater emphasis on keeping people with mental illnesses out of the legal system.