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New report offers vision for strengthening Ontario’s mental health and addictions system of care

 The Lead Agency Consortium and School Mental Health Ontario, along with the Knowledge Institute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions and Children’s Mental Health Ontario,  have together launched a new collaborative resource, Right time, right care: Strengthening Ontario’s mental health and addictions system of care for children and young people. This resource document offers a collective vision for how schools and community-based child and youth mental health organizations can collaborate to provide a coordinated, responsive system of care. Co-created by leaders within both sectors – community mental health and school mental health – this document provides a timely “north star” for helping to ensure a cohesive system of care that works for children, young people, and families.  This is especially important as we continue to move through the evolving pandemic, and through ongoing and significant societal events, injustices and inequities, all of which can have an impact on mental health and well-being.

On April 8, SMH-ON and contributing partners introduced this vision to leaders from schools and community-based child and youth mental health agencies to set the stage for continued collaborative work, provincially and locally.  Leaders were invited to take time to read and reflect on the document, and to consider what might be needed to make this vision a reality in their community.  For some, this will mean building on existing community planning tables and related processes.  For others, more significant changes will be needed, perhaps creating or re-imagining ways of working across schools and communities to better meet the needs of young people with rising levels of pandemic-related mental health distress.  Leaders from community and from school mental health were invited to join a working group who will be developing related implementation supports to assist with mobilizing towards the Right time, right care vision.

In coming months, the Right time, right care implementation working group, led by the four intermediary partners, will develop and disseminate tools and resources to support local planning and operationalization of the system of care vision.  We will also continue to work alongside Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education partners to build on the good work represented in this document. 

In the meantime, at a local level, board mental health leadership teams are encouraged to consider their own current contributions to the system of care, and how these align with the relative roles and emphasis for school mental health within the aspirational vision (I.e., priority focus on mental health promotion, prevention, early identification, and early intervention).  A mapping of current school-based supports and services may be a helpful step in preparation for conversations with community mental health partners in coming months.

Right Time, Right Care Resource to access the full report.