The final report on SEEI’s Impact Study, now available, presents several key findings on the use of hospital emergency departments (EDs) by people experiencing a mental health crisis; crisis programs and their connection to supporting services; and contacts between police and people experiencing a mental health crisis.
Between 2002 and 2007, the same period over which the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care invested an additional $167 million in Ontario’s community mental health system, hospital ED visits for mental health reasons by people aged 16-64 increased by 13 percent. However, the rate of increase in ED use by people experiencing more severe illness and by young people with early psychosis was lower than for the overall population, perhaps as a result of the funding targeted toward these two groups of people.
Efforts to better integrate service delivery were evident in several areas. For example, police services reported more collaboration with mental health services and the establishment of a greater number of protocols guiding police on how to respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis. Providers of crisis services across the province supported timelier access to services. Many had arrangements to accept referrals from police and emergency departments, and for post-crisis referral to other services and supports.
The Impact Study team used a number of data sources, including provincial administrative health data and surveys sent to crisis programs and police services across the province.
The Impact Study was a part of the Systems Enhancement Evaluation Initiative (SEEI), an innovative multifaceted four-year evaluation of the effects of the investments made by the government of Ontario in specific areas of the community mental health system.
See “Impact Study Final Report: A Study of Hospital Emergency Service Use, Crisis Service Delivery and Police Response after Mental Health System Enhancements,” June 2010, available at www.ehealthontario.ca.