Ontario announces online mental health program
March 4, 2020
TORONTO – The Ontario government said it will invest $20 million in 2020 to launch Mindability, a first-of-its-kind in Canada program that will provide evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy to equip Ontarians aged 10 and up with the lifelong skills they need to manage their mental health and overall well-being.
The program will include internet-based modules, personal workbooks, telephone coaching and online clinical counseling, as well as face-to-face, group and individual therapy. Mindability will be funded just like OHIP with no out-of-pocket costs for patients. It will roll out starting in spring 2020 with further expansion planned in the fall.
Mindability is a part of a larger mental health strategy launched by Ontario called Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions System. Christine Elliott (pictured), Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, 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 healthcare.”
After receiving an assessment from a trained mental health clinician, an eligible individual will be offered a therapy program that addresses their level of need to support their recovery.
Ontarians will also have access to in-person mental health and addictions navigation support through regional access points established across Ontario and through their local Ontario Health Team, which will better integrate mental health and addictions supports between hospitals, primary care providers and community service providers.
Mindability will build on the work over the last three years by four regional network hubs, including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, as well as a provincial bibliotherapy centre administered by the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario that offers Ontarians self-directed mental health support materials and books with complementary coaching and clinical support.
Mindability will provide access to evidence-based, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for people living with depression and anxiety. CBT is recognized as an effective intervention for depression and anxiety, the most common mental health issues to impact Ontarians. It builds resilience by equipping people with the lifelong skills they need to manage their mental health and overall well-being. It can lower the number of emergency department visits and admissions in Ontario, contributing to the broader provincial objective of ending hallway healthcare.
According to the government, Ontario will scale Mindability to expand access for Ontarians to receive the right level of service at the right time in the right place. This will help ensure that higher-intensity services are available for people with greater needs as depression and anxiety will be increasingly addressed earlier in a client’s journey.
A critical component of the program’s success will be high-quality data collection and monitoring. Through an innovative measurement-based approach, assessment scores will be collected at every client session. This will ensure access to performance data that will monitor a client’s progress for adjustments to be made where improvements are still needed.
This new program is based on the world-leading U.K. program that is achieving excellent patient outcomes. Psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, occupational therapists and nurses provide care for depression and anxiety in a variety of community settings.
Ten years of success from the U.K. program indicates that treating depression and anxiety in the community makes a positive impact in many ways. Sixty-five percent of clients experienced significant improvements in their anxiety and depression, individuals with chronic disease like diabetes saw improved condition management and health outcomes, and many individuals looking for work with anxiety and depression who had access to the service returned to work more quickly than their peers who didn’t have access to a mental health service.
In Ontario, the program will be available for children and youth aged 10 and up, adults, families and seniors. Services will be available in a variety of health and mental health locations close to home, and remotely via telephone or online. The government is expanding broadband service in Northern Ontario, which will result in more Ontarians being able to access web-based components of the program.