Skip to primary content
Skip to main menu
Skip to section menu (if applicable)

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.
January 15, 2015 Driving change for accessing mental health services in York Region

MOBYSS busThe Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), York Region and South Simcoe Branch has developed a new approach to addressing youth mental health. The branch announced Ontario’s first mobile mental health clinic for people between the ages of 12-25.

January 15, 2015 Start Talking Cup brings mental health awareness to Simcoe County

Start Talking Cup 11When the minor midget ‘AAA’ Barrie Colts and the North Central Predators took to the ice recently, the game had a slightly different focus than the matches they typically play.

January 15, 2015 CMHA branches collaborate on innovative crisis response

Although crime rates continue to decrease across Ontario, there are still vulnerable individuals at risk of becoming involved with the justice system, becoming a victim or suffering from a relapse. Several Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario branches have been working closely with local agencies in the human services sectors to address the needs of these individuals. This approach, known as collaborative situation “tables,” are not a new service delivery mechanism but rather a way of mobilizing existing resources and systems in an integrated and collaborative way.

January 15, 2015 Landmark court ruling implements changes to Mental Health Act

Photo of Waypoint MH FacilityThe Mental Health Act (MHA) legislation dates back to 1990 and allows individuals with mental health issues, who are at risk of causing harm to themselves or others, to be apprehended by police and detained. Most detentions last a few days and 80 percent are less than one month. However, there are rare cases (about two percent) where detentions last more than six months and individuals can be detained indefinitely as result of repeated renewals of the detention period.

January 15, 2015 Extreme cold and homelessness: a poor prescription for individuals with mental health conditions

No More homesless deaths imageThe extreme cold has gripped several regions across Ontario this month, but for two homeless people in Toronto the steep drop in temperature resulted in their deaths. Earlier this month, a homeless man died in a run-down delivery van. One day later, another homeless man said to be experiencing a mental health issue, was found dead in a transit shelter wearing only a t-shirt and jeans, with a hospital bracelet around his wrist.

January 15, 2015 Residents in Erie St. Clair get 24/7 access to addiction and mental health services

The Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) launched a new initiative with ConnexOntario and other local partners recently to offer residents access to substance abuse and mental health services 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

January 15, 2015 There is still time to have your say about Ontario’s budget

Long before the Ontario budget is presented, the government’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs reaches out to people and organizations across Ontario to gather information to help determine public priorities for the Budget.

January 15, 2015 Opportunity for all: The path to health equity

Opportunity for allThe Sudbury & District Health Unit is committed to understanding the local link between health outcomes and the social and economic environments in Greater Sudbury. In its report, Opportunity for All, the health unit explores and analyses this relationship with the aim of informing future public health and partner action to reduce health inequities in the City of Greater Sudbury.

January 15, 2015 Evidence to Action: Ontario students’ mental health and well-being

OSDUHS ImageOn December 1, 2014, EENet and the Health Promotion Resource Centre at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health hosted a webinar featuring provincial partners who have used the mental health and well-being data from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey to inform programming, planning, and policy.

January 15, 2015 How do a clinician’s emotions affect the way they deliver treatment for eating disorders?

EENET Student SpotlightThere are two existing theories that suggest clinicians may unintentionally play a negative role in the outcomes of treatment for eating disorders. These theories suggest that despite their good intentions, the way a clinician thinks, feels, and acts can sometimes affect how they deliver treatment.