Transforming the Mental Health System Using Technology
Technology is often used in healthcare to control, detect, screen, or treat an illness. e-mental health uses the Internet and related technologies, like phone apps, to let patients receive care when and where they need it most, regardless of how close they live to their care provider.
People in Canada often find it difficult to get mental health services. e-mental health makes sense, with nearly 80 percent of Canada’s population having online access. Yet, e-mental health is not widely used in Canada.
The advantages of e-mental health, include:
Does e-Mental health work?
With certain types of illnesses, e-mental health treatments are just as effective as face-to-face treatment. e-mental health allows helps people living with mental health problem or illness feel to more knowledgeable and better express their needs.
e-mental health services, which are often self-guided or partly self-guided, have been shown to work for a number of psychiatric conditions, including:
Creating a plan to advance e-Mental health
In consultation with leading researchers and key stakeholders, the MHCC is creating a clear plan to advance e-mental health. We are:
Investing in e-Mental health
The Mental Health Strategy for Canada recommends that we support the development of innovative e-mental health programs and learn how to better integrate e-mental health within the system.
The MHCC has a steering committee of experts and thought leaders across the country that direct, guide, and advise on e-mental health in Canada. With the Committee’s support, the MHCC published e-Mental Health in Canada: Transforming the Mental Health System Using Technology.
In early 2017, the MHCC worked with a research team from the IWK Health Centre to:
Engaging People with Lived Experience and Service Providers
As technology continues to evolve, it is important that the consumers of these innovations are involved in their development, implementation and evaluation. A recommendation contained within the e-mental health briefing paper emphasizes, “e-mental health services should be designed as ‘person-centred’ so that their individualized needs are prioritized. Any new services or technologies should be created in collaboration with the end-user to ensure appropriateness, effectiveness, and usability.”
To support this call to action, a consumer driven resource – “Mental Health, Technology and You” – was co-created by people with lived experience of mental illness/mental health problems and service providers, including personal vignettes and tips. This resource is about how to use technology to access services and supports, for either the individual or someone they care about.
Mental Health Apps: A Framework for Evaluation
With the growing number apps available to support mental wellness and recovery, there is a need to provide various audiences with tools to support informed decision-making when using or recommending e-mental health apps.
The MHCC and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research - Institute of Gender and Health (CIHR-IGH) worked to co-lead a consensus process to develop a framework for evaluating e-mental health apps. In November 2016, the MHCC and CIHR-IGH brought together stakeholders from across Canada, including app users, app developers, healthcare providers, mental health advocates, people with lived experience with mental health problems, policymakers and researchers, to discuss and reach consensus on the guiding principles and criteria to be included in a made-in-Canada framework for assessing mental health apps. This process resulted in an academic paper (in progress) and the two-page resource, Mental Health Apps: How to Make an Informed Choice.
Toolkit for e-Mental Health Implementation
The MHCC is pleased to launch the Toolkit for e-Mental Health (MH) Implementation in partnership with the Centre for Research in Family Health, IWK Health Centre, in consultation with stakeholders. It is a resource for MH professionals to implement e-MH innovations, such as telehealth, apps, messaging services, and any internet-based MH technology in clinical practice.
Convening Roundtable Discussions
The MHCC has been hosting roundtables to raise awareness about e-mental health, share promising practices and dialogue about barriers and opportunities.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) created a number of resources to address the current and future applications of e-mental health in order to reach more Canadians in need of help. Click on the links below for more information.