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Primary Health Care

Access to primary health care is often an issue for people with mental illness. Many people seek primary care from a family doctor in private practice. Other forms of primary care are also available. Due to a shortage of family physicians and a desire to expand alternatives to private family practices, in 2005 the provincial government announced the creation of 150 family health teams (FHTs) and 39 new community health centre (CHC) sites to address the need for primary health care across the province.

There is a growing trend for community mental health agencies and other agencies to work in partnership with family health teams and community health centres. FHTs and CHCs provide primary care using a model of multidisciplinary care that includes physicians and other providers such as nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and dietitians. In addition, CHCs provide a variety of health promotion and illness prevention services that focus on addressing and raising awareness of the broader social determinants of health, such as employment, education, environment, isolation, social exclusion and poverty.

CHCs are designed to meet the specific needs of a defined community, often with a focus on groups of people who face particular barriers to health. FHTs are designed to give doctors support from other professionals in providing primary care to the general population.

CHCs are non-profit, community-governed organizations. Most FHTs are physician-led, although some are community-led.

Learn more from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care:

Related Documents

Team WorkNetwork (Fall 2005)

CMHA, Windsor-Essex County Branch has partnered with other health care providers to create a family health team that includes a focus on mental health.

Related Resources

Association of Ontario Health Centres
The association advocates for CHCs, Aboriginal Health Access Centres and other non-profit, community-governed primary care organizations.
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