Addictions & Mental Health Ontario (AMHO) is committed to building a strong system of addictions and mental health care for Ontarians.
This commitment is rooted in the experiences of people we see every day who lead full, healthy lives because they found the help they needed.
While awareness and public attitudes about addiction and mental illness have changed dramatically over the past 10 years, Ontario’s system of care has simply not kept pace.
What does this mean?
- Ontarians – especially young people – living with mental health and addiction issues are asking for help, but they often can’t find the services they need.
- Waiting lists are a significant barrier to care.
- Stigma surrounding mental health and addictions remains a significant barrier to proper funding and access to services and supports.
AMHO advocates for a mental health and addiction service system that is:
Ontarians with mental health and addiction problems find the help they need in a timely way.
What we know:
1. Access to mental health and addictions services is uncoordinated and inadequate
2. One-third of Ontarians seeking mental health or addictions services report not getting the help they need
3. Provincial reports highlight the challenge of maintaining service levels in the face of stagnant funding
4. Wait- lists are a significant barrier to care
What can be done?
- Increase public funding in mental health and addictions services to more adequately meet demand – Ontario currently spends about six per cent of its health budget on mental health and addictions services.
- Other countries spend at least nine to ten percent – the UK leads with 13 per cent!
- In 2012, the Mental Health Commission of Canada recommended that provincial governments spend at least 9% of their health budgets on mental health and addiction
- Target funding to evidence-based services proven to keep people healthy and reduce visits to emergency and hospital inpatient services.
- Monitor client satisfaction and clinical outcomes, and identify treatment gaps.
What is AMHO doing to make our system accessible?
- Providing a strong, collective voice for members.
- Engaging key partners, using evidence and sharing expertise of our members so that Ontarians with mental health and addictions problems can achieve optimal outcomes.
- Documenting inadequate public funding in mental health and addictions across Ontario, and reporting the consequences to individuals, families and communities.
Services are designed to meet the needs of the client and their loved ones.
What we know:
Effective mental health and addictions clinical services are grounded in respectful partnerships between clients and professionals to: foster the autonomy of the client, recognize the capacity for self-management, and allow for active participation in decisions about treatment.
There is strong evidence to support the efficacy of peer support models of care and the Mental Health Commission of Canada documents empirical association of peer support with reduction in hospitalizations, reduction in symptoms and improvement in quality of life
What is AMHO Doing to Support a Client Centred System?
- AMHO recognizes that a significant proportion of mental health and addiction care is delivered by primary care clinicians and supports the capacity of primary care to deliver appropriate care
- AMHO has advocated for an expansion of peer support
- AMHO leads an initiative to advance peer support work through the DTFP funded ‘Best Practices in Peer Support Project’
Services are safe, effective, and delivered respectfully, helping clients to recover and sustain their recovery.
What we know:
- Ontario’s “Excellent Care for All Act” has demonstrated the impact of a systematic, organizational approach to quality improvement:
- Legislation and regulation have focused increased attention on the role of hospital boards in assessing the quality of service and publicly reporting on their findings.
- Community-based mental health and addiction providers have traditionally been characterized by passion and commitment.
- Community-based services need the tools and expertise to measure service quality and client outcomes
- Future funding may be partly contingent on a clear commitment to demonstrating the impact of services.
What is AMHO Doing to Enhance Quality Improvement and Reporting on Clinical Outcomes?
- AMHO is a partner on the Excellence through Quality Improvement (E-QIP) initiative to increase quality improvement capacity in the community mental health and addictions sector and continues to work closely with CMHA Ontario and Health Quality Ontario (HQO) on this multi-year initiative to:
- Increase readiness of the sector for inclusion in provincial programs.
- Identify organizations that can be models for quality improvement efforts.
- AMHO is also developing a toolkit to support accreditation of community-based mental health and addictions agencies – a partnership with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA).
It is clear how clients move from one part of the service system to another.
What we know:
- Many Ontarians are not asking for help until the moment of crisis or urgency:
- Health care systems do not work in a coordinated manner to identify problems early and connect people to services they need
- While hospital emergency departments are often the front door to services, they are not the best route to entering the mental health system:
- There needs to be a stronger link between primary care and mental health and addiction services – both community- and hospital-based.
What is AMHO Doing to Promote Integrated Services?
- AMHO has been working closely with key primary care partners: the Ontario College of Family Practice, the Association of Family Health Teams and the Association of Ontario Health Centres
- Work is underway with multiple ministries to review addiction services for transition-aged youth, with a focus on:
- ensuring appropriate continuity of service that is age-appropriate
- addressing a barrier to service integration
Services recognize that some Ontarians face barriers to access services, and develop programs that meet the unique needs of these populations
What we know:
- Culture impacts the way mental health is understood, and the way treatment is approached.
- May place clients in a higher risk category for social exclusion, and create specific barriers to service, such as language competence
- A system that is concerned about equity will be transparent about uneven access to services in different parts of Ontario.
- As documented by the Auditor-General and Health Quality Ontario, spending on mental health and addictions varies enormously from one part of the province to another.
- Future investments should be guided by data on current access to services, including wait times.
What is AMHO Doing to Build a More Equitable System of Mental Health and Addictions Care?
- AMHO works with its members to promote the use of the Health Equity Impact Assessment (HEIA).
- While overall system capacity must be addressed, AMHO will continue to make the case that funding decisions should be informed by data about current inequities, both in funding and the outcomes experienced by clients.