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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Collaborating for Better Care

The Medical Psychiatry Alliance kicked off its inaugural annual conference at the University of Toronto, Mississauga on October 31 with a call from one of its partners to challenge the status quo.

“The old ways simply are not good enough,” said Trillium Health Partners President and CEO, Michelle DiEmanuele. “We need to challenge each other. We have to disrupt, tick a few people off. People have to feel uncomfortable in how we are changing systems models.  This is about thinking and acting differently on this pressing need in health care.”

The Medical Psychiatry Alliance (MPA) was formed in January to address the challenge of integrating mental and physical health care – a  $60 million dollar partnership between CAMH, Trillium, SickKids, the University of Toronto with the support  of  the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and a generous anonymous donor.

“Within a system that tends to separate psychiatry from general medicine we are not effectively recognizing and treating people with physical and psychiatric illnesses," said CAMH Physician-in-Chief Dr. Benoit Mulsant who was recently appointed Executive Director of the MPA.  “This Alliance is all about putting mental health back into health care."

Dr. Benoit Mulsant
Dr. Benoit Mulsant welcomes conference participants
 

The MPA conference was attended by 200 physicians, clinicians, and clinical leaders who work in primary care, mental health, emergency and subspecialties in children’s health, medicine, seniors’ services and oncology. 

The educational conference consisted of plenary speakers and a panel discussion to discuss the use of collaborative care to create innovative models of care in child, adult and geriatric medical psychiatry. 

In Ontario, over 1.3 million people experience physical illness and mental illness at the same time. Up to 25 per cent of people living with chronic health issues also live with mental illnesses that contribute to their physical illness.

“We need to teach current and future health care professionals how to prevent, diagnose and treat co-occurring medical and physical illness within a novel integrated care model,” said Benoit. “We need to create a new model of clinical care that will increase the life expectancy of a vulnerable population.”

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