St. Joseph’s is playing a leadership role in the transformation of the mental health system in Southwestern Ontario.
What does “mental health transformation” mean?
Mental health transformation is occurring within our health care system across the country and in countries around the world. It means moving away from an institutionalized model of care — where a patient stayed in hospital for a long period of time — to a recovery model of care, one of hope and healing, where the goal is to help individuals who have mental health conditions live healthy, satisfying, and productive lives in their communities.
Short-term hospitalization for people with mental illness can sometimes be required in order to determine a diagnosis and/or to stabilize a patient’s symptoms. It can also provide critical respite for an individual who is struggling with the overwhelming challenges that mental illness brings to daily life or when the risk of suicide is high.
Prolonged periods in a hospital however, removes people from their home or community environment and results in the weakening of relationships, the loss of connection to their communities and a lost sense of belonging or contribution to society. All of these are critical to a person’s state of mental well being.
St. Joseph's works closely with patients and families to identify goals and learn what is important to each patient on their journey to recovery. Each care plan is individualized and includes feedback from the patient, their families, care providers and the community supports and resources that are unique to that individual.
Mental health transformation also means care providers are striving to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness that still exists in our society.
View the first issue (Winter 2012) of our quarterly newsletter about the transformation of mental health care in Southwestern Ontario.
What is St. Joseph’s role in mental health transformation?
In 1997, the Ontario Health Services Restructuring Commission (HSRC), a government created body, was given a mandate to make decisions on restructuring Ontario's public hospitals and other changes required for the creation of a genuine health services system in our province. The directives related to mental health which came out of the HSRC Report “Looking Back, Looking Forward” for St. Joseph’s included the following mandates:
- Assume governance and management of the former London and St. Thomas psychiatric hospitals. This was completed in 2001.
- The divestment of a certain number of long term specialized inpatient beds from St. Joseph’s to hospitals across southwestern Ontario.
- The construction of two new specialized mental health care facilities, one in London and one in St. Thomas.
An additional recommendation was made to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MoH): to assess and ensure investment in community based treatment and supports, recognizing that the restructuring program also included a reduction of the net number of inpatient beds for what would later become LHIN 2 (or the Southwest Local Health Integration Network). This means a reduction of 70 inpatient beds in favour of enhanced community care and support.