Why Collaboration for Mental Health Care Providers Has Never Been More Pressing

The mental health care system in Ontario was flawed long before the pandemic arrived in our province. Still, this new crisis is likely to exacerbate the problem. If you are a psychotherapy professional, you’ll agree that the current mental health care system in Ontario is fragmented and lacks integration, leaving many therapists without support from the mental health care community. Ultimately, this lack of professional support and collaboration hurts the clients, who require quality care and prompt access to mental health care.

Part of the problem is the fragmented structure of the mental health care system, where private and publicly funded mental health services hardly collaborate with each other. Ultimately, a disjointed mental health care system such as ours leaves a gaping void in care for those who need it most.

The growing number of individuals most in need of therapy can face many months of waiting to access psychiatrists, prolonging illness, and worsening their situation.  With the pandemic we currently live through and its impact on the mental health of thousands of people, including frontline workers, the lack of access and waiting times are only going to get worse.

In the traditional setting of mental health care, collaboration is rare and challenging, even with the best intentions. But this can change, and change for the better. In fact, the sudden shift in the delivery of mental health care — forced by the pandemic —  is a demonstration of what can be improved.

Collaborative Care Model for Better Mental Health Care

The Collaborative Care Model (CCM) is hardly a new concept and has been explored and largely supported in the literature. Studies have shown that the CCM improves clinical outcomes, treatment satisfaction and even overall mental and physical quality of life. You can look into some of these studies here and here, for a little light reading if you’re so inclined.

In the spirit of collaborative care, we decided to ask psychotherapists in Ontario about their collaborating practices and needs and their professional opinions on the matter. Last year, we ran a survey among psychotherapists to do just that. Here’s what they had to say…

Assessing the Collaborating Needs of Psychotherapists in Ontario – Survey Findings

An astounding 96% of the therapists indicated that some portion of their clients needs psychiatric consultationand stressed the fact that those in urgent need struggle to access psychiatric care. Specifically, 62% of their clients had been admitted to the emergency room in the past 12 months (of the survey), and 50% had contacted a distress center due to a mental health issue. Yet, 53% of these clients were unable to access a doctor to prescribe or change their psychotropic medications.

The vast majority of the therapists surveyed acknowledged the gap in the current mental health care system and agreed on the necessity for a collaborative approach to delivering mental health care, particularly in collaborating with psychiatrists.

However, despite acknowledging the need to collaborate with psychiatrists, 83% of the psychotherapists reported they do not currently collaborate with psychiatrists.

Note: A total of 1,148 psychotherapy providers were invited to take part, of which 13% responded (n=154). Respondents to the survey did not differ significantly from non-respondents in this sample in terms of their professional representation.

Click below to see the full report.

Collaborative Care and Innovation to Bridge the Gap

So the question becomes…why? Why don’t therapists collaborate with psychiatrists and even family doctors? Well, the answer is in the current setting – hierarchical, fragmented and cluttered by bureaucracy.

Here at Psychotherapy Matters, we strongly believe that disrupting the traditional system with a Collaborative Care Model (CCM) is part one of instigating change for the better. Part two is to utilize technology and innovation to put it into practice while emphasizing efficiency, customization and client-focused care.

The Psychotherapy Matters (PM) platform encompasses and delivers precisely this. Virtual psychiatrists can collaborate with accredited psychotherapy providers creating teams to match client needs, and providers can assist their clients in engaging in conjoint sessions with a psychiatrist.

PM uses technology and collaboration-based workflow processes to deliver integrated care.  Access and referrals become easier and faster, in some cases, taking just two weeks or less.  This client-centred program offers transparency, quality, customization, and efficiency.

Who will find PM beneficial?

Psychotherapy Matters is a supporting platform for those who are looking to enhance the range of services they offer. Providers can collaborate for family, couples, and individual therapy, occupational therapy, first responder treatments, assessments, EMDR, as well as business coaching for mental health care associates.

Registered or qualifying psychotherapists, clinical social workers, counsellors, therapists, coaches, psychologists or associates, and nurses will all find PM valuable. 

Psychotherapy Matters is dedicated to facilitating awareness, change, and growth, and working in partnership with other professionals. 

Click on the button below to find out how Psychotherapy Matters can help your practice and become a member.

Veronica Almeida

Veronica Almeida is the editor of the Psychotherapy Matters' blog, as well as PM's in-house marketing & communications manager. She graduated from Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Arts, with Honours, in Psychology and has since contributed to the mental health community through her work and community involvement.

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