Province announces new publicly-funded therapy program in Ontario


The province of Ontario says it's launching a new $20 million publicly-funded therapy program to assist those suffering from mental health or addiction-related challenges.

The province says that, following consultations with experts, grassroots organizations, health care providers, first responders, affected residents and their caregivers, Ontario is launching a program entitled Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions System.

“We know how important it is for Ontarians and their families to have access to high-quality services when and where they need them,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, in a statement. 

“By improving the availability and quality of mental health and addictions supports, and by better connecting Ontarians with these services, this new roadmap will help us build healthier communities by alleviating growing pressures on our hospitals and, in doing so, significantly support our goal of ending hallway health care.”

The province says the new Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence within Ontario Health will serve as the foundation on which the roadmap is built. 

The centre will be the coordinating, central provincial body that will implement the plan’s four pillars, which include improving quality; expanding existing services; implementing innovative solutions; and improving access.

As part of the third pillar, the province says it will launch Mindability, a first-of-its-kind in Canada program that will provide evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy to Ontarians aged 10 and up. 

As for how it will work, the province says that after receiving an assessment from a trained mental health clinician, an eligible individual will be offered a therapy program that addresses their level of need. 

The types of services available will include internet-based modules, personal workbooks, telephone coaching and clinical counseling, as well as face-to-face, group and individual therapy. 

Mindability will be funded just like OHIP with no out-of-pocket costs for patients. It will roll out starting in spring 2020 with further expansion planned in the fall.

As part of the fourth pillar, any person living in Ontario will be able to call, text or go online to learn more or get help by using one toll-free phone number accessible across the province and an easy-to-use website with an online chat function and client resources.

The province says it is in the process of finalizing plans for the implementation of one number to call. In spring 2020, a single number will provide streamlined access to Telehealth Ontario’s nine health information and advice programs. The province expects to begin expansion to include other services, including certain mental health services, in fall 2020, with phased expansion thereafter.

The province says residents will also have access to in-person mental health and addictions navigation support through regional access points established across Ontario and through their local Ontario Health Team.

The government will invest $20 million in 2020 to launch Mindability. This program will build on the work over the last three years by four regional network hubs, including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, as well as a provincial bibliotherapy centre administered by the Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario that offers Ontarians self-directed mental health support materials and books with complementary coaching and clinical support.

The province says it's investing $3.8 billion over 10 years to create new services and expand programs. 

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