Ontario has released its comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions strategy: Open Minds, Healthy Minds.The strategy follows Ontario’s previous mental health strategy, Making It Happen, a recent report from the Select Committee of the Legislature on Mental Health and Addictions,Navigating the Journey to Wellness: The Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Ontarians and the report to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care from the Minister’s Advisory Group, Respect, Recovery and Resilience: Recommendations for Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategy.
The strategy moves forward with the 2011 budget commitment of $257 million over three years for child and youth mental health as well as previous investments made to the community mental health and addictions programs since 2003. The strategy aims to be person-centred in approach which aligns with the Excellent Care For All Act.
The Open Minds, Healthy Minds strategy has four guiding goals:
- Improve mental health and well-being for all Ontarians
- Create healthy, resilient, inclusive communities
- Identify mental health and addictions problems early and intervene
- Provide timely, high quality, integrated, person-centred health and other human services
The first goal set forth in the report is “to improve mental health and well-being for all Ontarians”. This will include an initial focus on mental health for youth through early identification of needs and interventions, improving mental health literacy and mental health promotion programs for those at-risk and developing workplace programs.
The second goal is to “create healthy, resilient, inclusive communities.” This will involve strategies to reduce stigma and discrimination in a variety of sectors, aligning policies to improve housing and employment supports, and creating community hubs where services are integrated for easier access.
The third goal of “early identification and intervention” will translate to work on building capacity of first responders (through training resources and best practices, screening and assessment tools and standardized roles and competencies); specific support will be focused on school and family health care.
The fourth goal of providing “timely, high quality, integrated, person-directed health and other human services will involve strengthening service delivery, integrating mental health and addictions services together and with other health care and human services, and improving transitions between services.
The strategy’s focus in the first three years is on children and youth. Supports for this target population address three key areas: fast access to high-quality services, early identification and intervention and supporting kids with unique needs and bridging services gaps for remote communities. A $257 million budget (announced in spring 2011) will be applied to training and hiring more workers in community-based agencies, schools and post-secondary institutions and aboriginal communities. Other specific roles will include mental health court diversion and service coordination.
Ontario will also establish a directory of services, develop and implement a wait-time strategy and expand telepsychiatry mental health services. Progress indicators and outcomes for long-term system transformation will also be developed.
See “Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy” at www.health.gov.on.ca.