N.L. mental health project holds positive lessons for Canada: report

A pilot project aimed at reducing wait times for mental health services in Newfoundland and Labrador is being touted as an early success with possible lessons for other Canadian jurisdictions.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada released its report with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Memorial University this week, writing that the findings would be shared with other provincial and territorial health ministers.

Psychologist Peter Cornish led the Stepped Care 2.0 program, which he initially developed for college students drawing from a model in the United Kingdom.

Run out of 17 sites across the province up to December 2018, the program assessed patients the day they walked into a clinic and developed treatment plans, including whether the intensity of treatment should be stepped up or down.

The report indicated digital mental health tools, such as therapy assistance apps, were well-received, with 79 per cent of people surveyed saying the tools met at least some of their needs.

Stepped Care 2.0 is partially credited in the report for a 68 per cent reduction in wait times for mental health and addictions services in the province between 2017 and 2018.

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