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Mental Health Week: Improving Access and Supports in Ontario

National Mental Health Week (May 6 – 12) is a time to raise awareness about mental health issues affecting Ontarians. It is also an opportunity to highlight the important work our Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence is doing to enhance access to, and quality of, services for people across the province.

One way we are working to further these goals is through the development of new provincial programs to coordinate management and quality improvement of priority clinical areas.

Schizophrenia and Psychosis

We are creating an evidence-based specialized approach for providing services to individuals affected by early episode psychosis, which will help with early recognition of psychosis and timely access to treatments. The program builds on the principles of coordinated specialty care and NAVIGATE, an early treatment program for people with first-episode psychosis.

Eating Disorders

Last year, we developed an Eating Disorders Quality Standard, which addresses care for people of all ages with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

We are currently developing an Eating Disorders Outpatient Program Expectations that will outline core components of care that should be offered by outpatient eating disorders programs in the province.

Substance Use Disorders

Our initial priority for substance use disorders is the creation of integrated care pathways for people presenting to emergency departments who are at high risk of alcohol and/or opioid-related morbidity and mortality. The intent of these pathways is to connect people to care that addresses their needs, both in hospitals and communities. We are also developing a set of recommendations for standardized, evidence-based care and performance measurement for people accessing bed-based services for substance use (live-in environments for people who require more intensive support to meet their substance use goals).

Depression and Anxiety-Related Disorders

Neurostimulation procedures, which use electricity, implants or magnets to trigger brain activity, may be helpful for some people who have treatment-resistant depression. We are working to improve the accessibility and quality of two neurostimulation procedures: Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS, our initial focus) and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).

We also continue to expand and improve existing programs, such as the Ontario Structured Psychotherapy Program, which offers adults access to free high-quality mental health services across the province. It is now offered across the province through 10 Network Lead Organizations, with over 76,000 clients having enrolled in the program since it was launched as a pilot in 2017.

Enabling Health System Transformation

A key aspect of establishing a more comprehensive and coordinated system lies in ensuring streamlined access to mental health and addictions services. We are working with many partners to establish a model for provincial coordinated access, which will help people to easily connect with the right supports at the right time.

We are also working to standardize data collection through a provincial dataset. This will help us better understand service demand and needs across the province to enhance the delivery of care, provide meaningful performance reporting, and track the value of investments more effectively.

Find Mental Health and Addictions Services

Learn about the services and resources to support people and families who need mental health and addictions care, including supports for health care workers.

Last Updated: May 6, 2024