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CAMH-led collaboration will introduce a new model of early psychosis care across Ontario


CAMH-led collaboration will introduce a new model of early psychosis care across Ontario

Canada NewsWire

Large-scale research project aims to improve treatment for young people

TORONTO, July 24, 2018 /CNW/ - A CAMH-led collaboration will introduce a new model of care to improve treatment for adolescents and young adults who experience psychosis.

Psychosis can be a symptom of several mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and tends to occur for first time between ages of 14 and 35. While early psychosis programs have been widely introduced in Ontario, ongoing work shows there are major challenges in consistently providing all aspects of evidence-based care, particularly elements focused on recovery.

The large-scale, community-based research project is supported by a $1.5-million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) initiative, with matching funds from CAMH's Provincial System Support Program, Project ECHO Ontario Mental Health and the CAMH Foundation.

To address these challenges, a collaborative team, co-led by patients, family members, researchers and clinicians, will implement a coordinated, multidisciplinary type of care called NAVIGATE. The U.S.-developed model is effective in helping young people with early psychosis significantly improve their day-to-day functioning. NAVIGATE provides comprehensive care to patients and their families, including medication to reduce symptoms, a family education program, resiliency training to help patients identify and develop strengths, and counselling to help young people pursue their education and employment goals.

"The main goal of this project is to improve early psychosis care in Ontario communities" says Dr. Aristotle Voineskos, Director of the Slaight Family Centre for Youth in Transition at CAMH, and one of several team leaders.

Lillian Duda, a family member and project partner, sees the benefits of expanding this model. Her son, now 20, experienced psychosis in his late teen years before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. "We have had two experiences with hospitalizations, and they were really stressful and hard for my son and for us as his parents. The services in the outpatient program at the Slaight Centre have been so helpful. We started to feel we are on a better path."

Ms. Duda believes comprehensive, integrated care is key. "Mental health is so hard to understand. It's not a broken arm where you patch it up, and you're back out there," she says. "It's about bringing together different disciplines and perspectives to help see a path forward – bringing together the social worker, the case worker, the psychiatrist, the employment counselor, and not just depending on meds. That collaborative effort really appeals to me because it builds a stronger base for the individual and a stronger community response to care."

To expand the reach of NAVIGATE in Ontario, four early psychosis programs, responsible for covering 45 per cent of Ontario's geographic area, will partner in its implementation, supported by CAMH's Provincial System Support Program and Project ECHO Ontario Mental Health, a CAMH-University of Toronto collaboration. All sites are part of the Early Psychosis Intervention Ontario Network (EPION), which would allow for rapid uptake across additional Ontario sites if the project expands in future.

Young people with lived experience and family members contributed in developing the project proposal, and will be equal partners in guiding the work locally at each site and in contributing to the project overall through an advisory committee.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit or follow @CAMHResearch on Twitter.

SOURCE Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

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