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Ontario unveils its plan to build a mental health and addictions system

'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'

Ontario is launching what it calls its "Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario's Mental Health and Addictions System."

Today, Christine Elliott, Minister of Health, and Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, revealed the new roadmap, which provides a path forward toward "easier access to higher-quality care and supports in communities across the province."

Every year, more than one million Ontarians experience a mental health or addictions challenge, which can have a serious impact on their quality of life, including the ability to go to school or make a living. 

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

The new Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence within Ontario Health will serve as the foundation on which Roadmap to Wellness is built. The centre will be the coordinating, central provincial body that will enable and drive the effective implementation of the plan's four pillars:

They are:

  1. Improving quality;
  2. Expanding existing services;
  3. Implementing innovative solutions; and
  4. Improving access.

"Taken together, along with a comprehensive wait times strategy, these pillars will help build a system that puts the patient at the centre of care and drives down unacceptably high wait times for services," says a government news release.

As part of the third pillar, implementing innovative solutions, Ontario will 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.

"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," adds the release.T"he 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. Mindability will be funded just like OHIP with no out-of-pocket costs for patients. It will roll out starting this spring with further expansion planned in the fall."

"Roadmap to Wellness moves us in the right direction toward building a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system that works for all Ontarians across the lifespan," said Tibollo. "This is a plan that is client-centered, data-driven and evidence-based."

As part of the fourth pillar, improving access, any person living in Ontario will be able to call, text or go online to learn more or get help by using:

  • One easy-to-remember and toll-free phone number accessible across the province
  • 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. As a first step, in spring 2020 a single number will provide streamlined access to Telehealth Ontario's nine health information and advice programs. 

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, to try to better integrate mental health and addictions supports between hospitals, primary care providers and community service providers.

The government will spend $20 million this year to launch Mindability.


See: Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions System