Caring in a Digital World: 9th Annual E-Mental Health Conference keeps pace with rapidly changing mental health technology

TORONTO, March 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Last week, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), together with co-hosts the University of British Columbia, the University Health Network, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, wrapped up the 9th Annual E-Mental Health Conference in Toronto.

As stigma recedes, mental health services are being strained at the seams. Harnessing new technologies, which have the potential to reach the underserved and reduce wait times across the board, is therefore crucial.

The conference attracted hundreds of practitioners, researchers, administrators, and people with lived and living experience from Canada, the U.S., and Australia. The event shared knowledge and leading practices on incorporating new technologies, like the internet and mental health apps, into the screening, treatment, and support for mental health concerns.

Special guest Michael Tibollo, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, underscored the important role technology plays in overcoming barriers to accessible care and highlighted the government’s commitment to prioritizing vulnerable populations.

A recurring theme throughout the conference was the importance of effectively developing, implementing, and assessing e-mental health technologies, while including the meaningful engagement of people with lived experience. This aligns with the MHCC’s efforts to leverage innovation to bridge the gap between what we know and what we do.

The tremendous success of Dr. Peter Cornish’s Stepped Care 2.0 model in Newfoundland and Labrador — implemented with the support of the provincial government, its four regional health authorities, CHANNAL, and the MHCC — points to the value of incorporating technology into primary mental health care.

The conference will return to Vancouver next year to mark its 10th anniversary.

“Over the past decade, e-mental health has experienced a sea change unlike anything I could have predicted. Today, it’s not uncommon to be connected to health apps, to use telehealth or get cognitive behavioural therapy on your phone. But technology is as fallible as the humans that create it, which means we must continue to share knowledge and develop guidelines to create a safer digital world.”
Louise Bradley, President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada

“At a time when innovation is so critical to the modernization of our health care system, it is reassuring to know we can rely on the Mental Health Commission of Canada and our partners in mental health to lead the way. As we continue working on creating a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system, we will engage with our partners to ensure that Ontarians and their families are properly supported throughout their mental health or addictions journey.”
Hon. Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions (Ontario)

Quick Facts

  • The Stepped Care 2.0 model contributed to the reduction in wait times by 68 per cent, with some communities reporting no wait-lists.
  • Most people were satisfied with the e-mental health services offered through the Stepped Care 2.0 model.

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