Ontario launches new mental health strategy to improve accessibility

Mar 4 2020, 6:21 am

The Province of Ontario is launching a new mental health system to tackle people’s general mental wellbeing.

Ontario is investing $3.8 billion over 10 years to support its new program, Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario’s Mental Health and Addiction Systems.

The province says the program was made after consultation with experts, grassroots organizations, health care providers, as well as people with lived experience and their families.

Health Minister Christine Elliot announced the creation of the new Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence within Ontario Health will be the foundation to help build the Roadmap to Wellness.

The centre will help implement the plan’s four pillars, improving quality, expanding existing services, implementing innovative solutions and improving access.

According to Elliot, the goal of these pillars is to put patients needs first and drive down long wait times for services.

As part of implementing innovative solutions, Ontario will launch Mindability, which will provide cognitive behavioural therapy to Ontarians age 10 and up. It will be funded just like OHIP with no out-of-pocket costs for patients. The program will roll out starting in spring 2020 with further expansion planned in the fall.

The types of services available will include internet-based modules, personal workbooks, telephone coaching and clinical counseling, as well as face-to-face, group and individual therapy.

The province is also working on improving access for mental health services. Any person living in Ontario will be able to call, text or go online to learn more or get help by using an “easy-to-remember and toll-free phone number,” and an “easy-to-use website with an online chat function and client resources.”

Ontario is in the process of finalizing plans for the implementation of one number to call.

“We know how important it is for Ontarians and their families to have access to high-quality services when and where they need them,” Elliott said.

“By improving the availability and quality of mental health and addictions supports, and by better connecting Ontarians with these services, this new roadmap will help us build healthier communities by alleviating growing pressures on our hospitals and, in doing so, significantly support our goal of ending hallway health care.”