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Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Implements Innovative Solution to Improve Access to Mental Health Services

CHATHAM-KENT: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 – Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) is fully implementing an innovative solution to increase access to mental health services across geographical boundaries. CKHA’s Mental Health and Addictions Program (MHAP) delivers traditional, face-to-face, clinic-based therapy. For some individuals living in the vast geographical region of Chatham-Kent, this can create a barrier to accessing care or services.  In an effort to improve access to services, MHAP will expand beyond its pilot phase to offer an alternative venue for therapy through the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). 
 
CKHA along with its partner Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton-Kent (CMHA) has demonstrated a culture of innovation and eagerness to adopt new technology. Delivering a therapeutic treatment through a secured network is yet another opportunity to expand services and address the needs of patients. Beginning November 2, 2015, services will be offered to patients through OTN’s “Send Invite” feature across the entire program. This feature will allow therapists to invite patients to participate in therapy via a web–based videoconference using a computer, tablet or handheld device, much like skype, but within a private, healthcare grade network. The delivery of this new technology will not replace traditional face-to-face therapy that’s offered, rather, it will be an alternative choice to traditional clinic visits.  
 
“In our experience with using technology for mental healthcare, we’ve recognized that successful utilization of this venue is highly dependent on the providers’ knowledge and comfort level with the process and equipment,” said Dan Saunders, Registered Nurse & Project Lead for OTN Mental Health Services. “We’ve taken several steps to prepare the team for this, including a few test visits that have allowed families from Northern Ontario, to participate in their mother’s treatment planning. It’s worth every bit of effort when you see families unite with their loved ones as they make critical healthcare decisions together.”  
 
To best prepare CKHA’s professional staff of therapists who will be offering this new treatment option, MHAP will be hosting a conference on October 23, 2015. The day will be facilitated by Lawrence Murphy, one of the founders of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc., who has been offering psychotherapy through electronic means since 1994. As a lecturer with the University of Toronto who certifies instructors on the use of electronic therapy, Mr. Murphy will share his lessons learned as an experienced clinician who has provided therapy using various electronic methods. "Offering online counselling is certainly exciting in its own right. For me though, what is most important is that it works. Research and our own experience makes plain that, with few exceptions, online work is as effective as face-to-face counselling," said Murphy.
 
The training by Mr. Murphy is yet another opportunity to prepare professional staff for this new intervention that has been standard practice in many sites throughout Canada. CKHA and CMHA Lambton-Kent, are committed to improving access to mental health services for the community and are excited to once again lead the way in mental health service transformation. 
 
 
 
 
For more information, contact:
Emily Field, Communications Jr. Officer
Chatham-Kent Health Alliance
519.352.6401 x 5326
efield [at] ckha [dot] on [dot] ca
 

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