‘Stepping’ Up For Mental Health

The Stepped Care model supports patients across Osler. Pictured here are some of Etobicoke General’s mental health team, from left to right: Abby, Occupational Therapist, Melanie, Registered Nurse, and Gwyn, Social Worker

Amanda Silva vividly remembers what life was like before she began receiving the mental health and addiction support she so desperately needed. “I would never leave my bed. My partner knew she could go to work in the morning and I would still be there in bed when she returned in the evening.”


Silva is far from alone in her struggle. In any given year, one in five Canadians personally experiences a mental illness or addiction problem. And all of us will know someone who is affected in our lifetime.


Osler is home to one of the largest mental health and addictions programs in the province, with patient volumes that are increasing by as much as 10 per cent a year. In 2018-19, there were 2,760 adult mental health inpatient discharges and 92,881 adult and child and adolescent outpatient visits at Osler. 


To better help these patients in their recovery, Osler launched an innovative new service delivery model in 2018-19 for people with mood and anxiety problems. Called the Stepped Care Program, this unique four-step approach matches patients’ level of need to level of service, reserving the most intense, resource-rich services for patients with the most complex needs. 


“Our goal is to increase access to service, reduce wait times, decrease visits to the emergency department, and increase patient and primary care satisfaction,” says Faiza Khalid-Khan, Director of Mental Health and Addictions. 


Since introducing the Program in January, Osler has almost doubled access to its mental health programs and intervention services for patients like Silva and significantly reduced wait times to see a psychiatrist or psychotherapist – all without changes to staffing, space or resources. When we talk about optimizing value through effective and efficient use of resources to deliver health care our community can rely on in our new 2019-24 Strategic Plan, this is exactly what we mean. It is this type of innovation that we must continue to inspire in our staff and partners to ensure quality excellence in care moving forward. 


As for Silva she says her recovery is going very well. She currently attends group counselling and says that knowing care is available when and where she needs it is a huge comfort to her. “I absolutely notice a difference in how I feel today. I am no longer using alcohol and I enjoy the simple things in life now. I like to get out of the house to go for walks. I have also made friends through these group sessions and we support each other.”

© 2019 William Osler Health System

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