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Evaluation shows $167 million investment improves community mental health system, but many still in need

Can $167 million in provincial funding make a difference to Ontario's community mental health system? According to the results from the Systems Enhancement Evaluation Initiative (SEEI), the answer is yes. Ontarians now have access to more appropriate community mental health services. But, the research also highlights the system's limited resources to serve all those in need.

Led by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)'s Dr. Paula Goering, SEEI is the culmination of nine research studies that explored the system impact of $167 million of new community mental health funding in Ontario. As Dr. Goering explains, this report is an installment in the ongoing dialogue about what we can do to enhance the community mental health system's ability to meet the needs of those living with mental illness.

The results showed that:

  • Access to services improved, with many early intervention and court support services able to double the number of people served, and more clients were matched with the level of care they required.
  • Programs are reaching people earlier, as young people are getting help at an earlier stage of their illness.
  • Clients experienced a range of positive outcomes such as lower relapse rates in use of hospital resources for those in early intervention programs, and rates of homelessness and the severity of symptoms were reduced for clients in the Ottawa court support program.

However, the data showed that our health system has a limited capacity to serve all those in need, particularly clients who need intensive or daily community level support. Also, clients experienced a lack of other support services, particularly in the areas of housing and vocational training. At the regional level, one of the highest areas of unmet needs for clients was a lack of access to dental, social and vocational services.

"It's important to remember that formal health care services and systems are only part of the picture," says Dr. Goering. "As the results show, the larger society in which the community health system is located has a profound influence on the lives of those who seek help."

The SEEI partner organizations are:

  • Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs
  • Ontario Mental Health Foundation


Contact: Michael Torres
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

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