By Michael McKinnon
CAMH collaboration is combining technology with traditional Indigenous healing
and knowledge to improve wholistic care
for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people across Ontario.
ECHO Ontario First Nations, Inuit and
Métis Wellness is one of six new ECHOs to be funded by
the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. CAMH is helping lead this expansion
of the broader ECHO Ontario Mental Health at CAMH and U of T program to also
include community-based addictions (working with St. Michael’s Hospital);
gender identity; obsessive compulsive disorder (working with Sunnybrook);
structured psychotherapies; and advanced practice mental health.
Through weekly teleconferencing, ECHO Ontario First Nations, Inuit and Métis Wellness connects experts at the Toronto hub with primary care providers at Ontario remote and rural communities to share knowledge and discuss complex cases.
follow a collaborative model, connecting health care providers in Toronto with primary
care and mental health care providers working with remote and rural communities
to share knowledge and improve care. Through weekly teleconferencing, ECHO teams – including psychiatrists, physicians and social workers – discusses complex
cases and makes recommendations for specific populations. ECHO Ontario First Nations, Inuit and Métis Wellness has been
further customized to include First Nations social workers and traditional
healers, and Elders.
remote and rural communities, primary care providers and front line mental
health and addictions providers really have to do it all, and so this kind of
telemental health support is key to establishing a learning community and
supporting one another,” says CAMH Elder Kahontakwas Diane Longboat, ECHO’s traditional healer.
community engagement, the team has ensured traditional Indigenous approaches
and knowledge are an integral part of wellness at the ECHO table. The Elder
opens and closes each session with a prayer while an Indigenous host guides
discussions; the team plans to welcome Elders from ECHO’s partner sites to
share in these roles, as well, recognizing that Indigenous knowledge and
traditions differ from community to community. All participants contribute
equally to case discussions and recommendations from the elder to psychiatrists
and physicians to the primary care providers and service providers in the
remote and rural settings.
of us view each other as equal team members; that’s an important dynamic that
needs to be highlighted. Everything threaded through the ECHO is a balanced
response from the traditional healer, the psychiatrists and physicians present,
and the partner sites,” says Longboat.
Elder Kahontakwas Diane Longboat, ECHO’s traditional
healer, right, listens to Dr. Renee Linklater, Director of Aboriginal
Engagement and Outreach in the Provincial System Support Program, speak at the
opening of the CAMH’s Ceremony Grounds in June 2016. Both play an important
role in ECHO Ontario First Nations, Inuit and Métis Wellness.
Ontario First Nations, Inuit and Métis Wellness aims to address complete wellness – physical and spiritual, as well as mental. With Longboat and other Indigenous
staff addressing the spiritual side, Dr.
Lisa Richardson, General Internal Medicine at UHN, provides expertise in
chose the word wellness rather than health because we want to signal the broad
perspective that we’re taking – integrating both physical and mental health
wellness, but also integrating spiritual wellbeing, family, community, and
Indigenous knowledge,” explains Dr.
Allison Crawford, a CAMH psychiatrist who co-leads the ECHO with Dr. Renee Linklater, Director of
Aboriginal Engagement and Outreach in the Provincial System Support Program.
“This ECHO is really enhancing best practices for people with complex mental
and physical health challenges, and it’s also deepening the connection and
relationship between best practices, traditional healing practices and
is aligned with the Medical
Psychiatry Alliance, a unique health care partnership aimed at
integrating health care services for those living with mental
Published on January 30, 2018