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Current Year Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

The PARTNERs Project: A new approach to mental health care

​TORONTO, January 24, 2017 -

WHAT: The PARTNERs project is 3-year study into the efficacy of a new and innovative model to expand mental health care to those who need it. The premise is simple - working with a network of about 150 family physicians and nurse practitioners in Ontario - the PARTNERs team works as a liaison between the patient and the larger mental health services community. Physicians and nurse practitioners participating in the program refer a patient with mental health or addiction issues to PARTNERs, which designs a treatment plan overseen by a psychiatrist on the PARTNERs team. Then a specially trained mental health "coach" will have a series of regular telephone conversations with the patient, usually on a weekly basis for 20 to 30 minutes at a time for several weeks. Information from those consultations is passed back to the family physician. One physician participating in the study said she found out for the first time from the PARTNERs team that her patient's mental health issues were more severe than had been indicated in the doctor's office.

WHY: We know that as many as 40% of Canadians with mental illness will not seek help. And most of us know from personal experience that the topic of mental health is often not brought up by the patient during a regular doctor's appointment. If it is, it usually involves a referral that can often mean months spent on a waiting list waiting for customized mental health care. Originally a GTA-based study, the PARTNERs project has now expanded to more remote, rural areas of Ontario and is actively recruiting throughout the province. 


"We really have two separate health systems, one that takes care of physical health and one that takes care of mental health," says Dr. Benoit Mulsant, Lead Researcher of PARTNERs and Executive Director of the Medical Psychiatry Alliance. "We hope the PARTNERs project, a concept of integrated care, will support these patients by increasing access to the care they need.  If we can do this, we hope this model will be widely adopted."

PARTNERs is made possible through the generous support of BELL LET's TALK and is part of the Medical Psychiatry Alliance.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in its field.  CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. 

For further information:

Sean O'Malley, Media Relations, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 416 535 8501 x36663, sean.omalley@camh.ca

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