New mental health project aims to improve care for NWT residents

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The GNWT and the Mental Health Commission of Canada have collaborated on a two year mental health project to reduce wait times and improve services by providing care to residents when and where they need it.

The project includes the use of both existing traditional supports and Internet and digital technologies like phone apps to offer residents a menu of options they can choose from – as and where needed – regardless of where they live. Matching residents with the appropriate level of care will free up counsellors for those with more complex needs.

Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the MHCC mentions that too often, people wait months for mental health services because the only option is specialized care and that by diversifying the menu of options available, the people of the NWT will have more choice.

“Apps, digital offerings and telephone services are alternatives that reduce strain on the conventional system and free up pathways to care that can be accessed more quickly and easily. I’m delighted the MHCC is supporting the GNWT as they innovate solutions that are needed now more than ever.”

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The project uses the Stepped Care 2.0 © model developed by Dr. Peter Cornish and rolled out with success in Newfoundland and Labrador. According to the GNWT, the model contributed to a reduction in the province’s counselling wait times by 68 per cent, and had a good satisfaction rating among service users and providers. MHCC will be assisting with this project, and has contracted Dr. Cornish to be the lead consultant.

Cornish says he has noticed that the people of the NWT are intrigued by the Stepped Care 2.0 model and excited by opportunities for expanding culturally relevant service options and increasing access to timely care.

“They value their health and well-being. I have noticed that people seeking help and providers of care are ready for system change.”

The Stepped Care 2.0 © model represents a tangible way in which the GNWT can implement the Seamless Care Pathway approach – a key component of the GNWT Mental Wellness and Addictions Recovery Action Plan – to transform the NWT mental wellness and addictions recovery system.

Diane Thom, Minister of Health and Social Services states that having more options, in addition to on-the-land, peer-to-peer, face to face counselling and facility based treatment, allow residents to choose the most appropriate treatment method they want.

“By providing residents with flexible, same day care in combination with e- mental health apps and other supports, we will be able to reduce wait times and either step up or step down intensity of services based on the needs of individuals and families.”

The GNWT notes that the SCP and SC2.0 approaches ensure individuals and families have access to the right level of care quickly and receive timely and solution focused support based on their present needs.

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