For Physicians & Health Professionals
Primary Health Care
Shared Care for Mental Health
Working Together for Better Mental Health
Family physicians regularly provide mental health care for their patients. In fact, evidence shows 35% of individuals suffering from mental health disorders are treated by their family doctors in a primary care setting. Yet many family physicians report encountering difficulty in accessing services and support to provide care for their mental health patients.
Consequently, when the family physicians with privileges at Trillium Health Centre indicated they would appreciate an innovative, integrated approach to better care for their mental health patients, Trillium welcomed the opportunity to pioneer a shared mental health care program. Trillium had previously developed a shared mental health care model with LAMP Community Health Centre, located in west Toronto, which had proven quite successful. Following discussions with other community organizations such as St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto, the HSO Mental Health Program in Hamilton, and the Ontario College of Family Physicians, Trillium developed a model to increase family physicians’ knowledge and comfort in treating mental health patients, provide patients with quick access to psychiatric consultations, and improve mental health providers’ understanding of what is necessary to support family physicians. Family physicians also benefit from rapid access to consultation services and support from a mental health team.
The environment to foster shared care at Trillium began in 2001, when the Health Centre recognized the need to strengthen their focus on supporting and promoting improvements in primary and community care. A pilot project, which was guided by psychiatrist Dr. Suzanne Legault, began in October 2002 and has continued to evolve. The shared care model at Trillium Mental Health Services has expanded the collaborative approach to mental health care to include children and adolescents with mental health concerns. While patients remain in the care of their family physician or pediatrician, the mental health team is available to advise and assist with implementation of the recommendations. Some physicians meet once a month with the mental health team to discuss cases and learn about advances in mental health, such as new medications.
At the present time, the development of relationships with The Summerville Family Health team continues to grow. Dr. Michael Kates, Chief of Family Medicine and Dr. Rose Geist, Chief of Mental Health Services at Trillium Health Centre encourage the continued growth of this model and are planning to provide educational opportunities in the shared care model for family practice and psychiatry trainees and residents from the University of Toronto.