About the Centre of Excellence

The Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence will take what has worked to improve quality of care for other conditions and apply the same ingredients to mental health and addictions in Ontario.

We are working with partners in the mental health and addictions sector, people with lived experience and health care providers to guide this work. This includes representation from the children, youth and adult sectors.

two women smiling
Our clinical lead: Dr. Paul Kurdyak is a psychiatrist, clinician, scientist, and thought leader on mental health care in Ontario.

The role of the Centre of Excellence

Its role is to ensure that mental health and addictions care for children, youth and adults is:

  1. Delivered consistently across the province,
  2. Integrated with the broader health care system,
  3. More easily accessible, and
  4. Responsive to the diverse needs of people living in Ontario and their families.

To do this, the Centre will:

  • Establish a central point of accountability and oversight for mental health and addictions care.
  • Create common performance indicators and shared infrastructure to disseminate evidence and set service expectations.
  • Standardize and monitor the quality and delivery of evidence-based services and clinical care across the province.
  • Provide support and resources to Ontario Health Teams as they connect people to the different types of mental health and addictions care they need.

The Centre will also help implement the Roadmap to Wellness, the province’s plan to build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system.

Why needed

Every year, more than one million people in Ontario experience a mental health or addictions challenge requiring care . Often, supports are difficult to find where and when they are needed.

For many people, the emergency department is their main point of access to care:

  • Among people in Ontario who visited the emergency department in 2017/18 for a mental illness or addiction, 9.5% – or nearly 18,300 people – visited four or more times in a year2.
  • For many, their first contact for mental health and addictions services was in the emergency department – 31.9% for adults and 40.4% for children and youth in 2017/183.

Care in the community is in high demand – in 2015/16, more than 121,000 children and youth accessed services in their community. The average wait time for these services ranged from 2 days for crisis services to 98 days for intensive services4.

Unlike other parts of the health system, mental health and addictions lacked a provincial coordinating body overseeing quality and delivery. This contributed to many challenges, such as inconsistency in what services are available by region, uneven client and patient experiences and outcomes, and lack of data to show where to improve. The Centre of Excellence will address these challenges.