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CAMH launches online mental health gateway and app

David GoldbloomTORONTO – The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has launched Portico, an online interactive platform that connects primary care providers to the latest clinical tools, resources and information about treating mental illness and addiction. At the same time, CAMH also released the Psychiatry in Primary Care app.

Guided by CAMH expertise, porticonetwork.ca was designed in partnership with Bell Business Markets for healthcare professionals, but is equally accessible for anyone looking for reliable, evidence-based information about mental illness and addiction.

The online platform brings together tools, resources, and practitioners in an effort to improve care for people with mental illness.

Significantly, the portal enables primary care practitioners across Canada, including physicians, social workers and therapists, to create “communities of practice” to share information. Not only does the portal enable them to answer questions, for many it will also reduce the sense of isolation when working in remote communities.

“Most Canadians access healthcare exclusively through a primary care setting, be it a physician’s office or a family health team,” said Dr. David Goldbloom (pictured), co-editor of Psychiatry in Primary Care and Senior Medical Advisor at CAMH. “As demand for specialized mental health services continues to outstrip supply, we need practical and effective ways to better equip primary care professionals to treat mental illness in their daily practice.”

One of the first resources now available through Portico is Psychiatry in Primary Care, a suite of products designed to support family doctors and front line practitioners in rapid assessment and treatment options for mental illness. First developed in 2011 as a popular paper pocket guide, CAMH experts have created a mobile app version of Psychiatry in Primary Care with built-in assessment guides, diagnostic criteria and customizable toolkits.

Through the app, users can connect back to the Portico network to access more detailed information about treatment options and best practices. Key clinical topics include suicide risk assessment and diagnosing, and treating illnesses such as depression, psychosis, substance use and personality disorders.

Development of the Portico Network was a collaborative process, with CAMH and Bell working together to assess the need for knowledge exchange in mental health and design a site to help meet that need.

“Improving access to care is one of the four pillars of Bell Let’s Talk, so we’re very proud to have partnered with CAMH to create the Portico online network for mental health practitioners across the country,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk.

“It is resources such as these that enable front line mental healthcare professionals to provide improved, customized mental healthcare and ensure people suffering from mental illness get the specialized treatment they need faster and closer to home,” she said.

In Ontario alone, approximately 20% of patient visits to primary care practitioners are related to mental health. Portico and the Psychiatry in Primary Care app have the potential to significantly impact Canadians’ access to quality mental healthcare for the better.

“When it comes to treating mental illness and addiction, there is significant disparity in our current healthcare system. Canadians do not always get the same quality of care,” said Dr. Peter Selby, family physician and director of medical education at CAMH.

“The goal of Portico is to help build capacity by providing a one-stop destination for doctors, mental health educators, clinicians and other professionals looking for trusted content and a network in which to expand their expertise in this area,” added Dr. Selby, who is also a member of Portico’s national editorial board.

“The Psychiatry in Primary Care app will help guide primary care providers to better diagnose and treat their patients,” said Dr. Goldbloom. “The advantage of the app is that you can customize the toolkits to your practice and your patients. You can shape it for the individual needs of your patients and your style as a clinician.”

About Bell Let’s Talk
The Bell Let’s Talk initiative promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns, like Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk and Bell Let’s Talk Day, and significant Bell funding of community care and access, research, and workplace initiatives. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

About The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit camh.ca or follow @CAMHnews on Twitter.

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