Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario and seven northern branches played a key role in a research project about capacity-building of front-line health workers. Results of the project, Continuing Education To Go: Capacity Building in Psychotherapies for Front-Line Mental Health Workers in Underserviced Communities, were published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry‘s June 2013 issue. Scott Mitchell, Director, Knowledge Transfer for CMHA Ontario, is a co-author of the report and was instrumental in helping researchers collaborate with front-line employees at CMHA branches in Cochrane Timiskaming, Fort Frances, Kenora, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury-Manitoulin and Thunder Bay.
The goals of the project were to:
- improve access to professional development for mental health providers in underserviced communities.
- provide evidence-supported psychotherapeutic practices for clients with mental illness through standardized, evaluated teaching to care providers.
- foster collaboration between mental health experts and front-line community mental health services through an inter-professional knowledge exchange program..
Following a needs assessment, researchers developed continuing education courses on the fundamentals of cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, motivational interviewing, and dialectical behaviour therapy. The training included video simulations, interactive lesson plans, and
clinical practice behaviour reminders, and was delivered in either self-directed format or peer-led small group sessions. Two courses were implemented and assessed for this study. Ninety-three front-line staff from the CMHA branches participated.
Results of the training showed that participants reported an improved sense of confidence in their professional roles and validation in how they were approaching their job. They also appreciated learning specific therapeutic techniques that improved their understanding of and rapport with their clients. The researchers concluded that the tools and methods used in this project to educate front-line workers can build capacity to help clients experiencing common mental disorders.
An abstract of “Continuing Education To Go: Capacity Building in Psychotherapies for Front-Line Mental Health Workers in Underserviced Communities” is available at the Canadian Psychiatric Association website.