Providing Increased Access to Mental Health Services
by Maryanne Matthews
Patients are physical, spiritual and mental beings. Sometimes, physical ailments can be accompanied by mental health issues. That’s why patients with mental health issues are often cared for in all areas of our Health Sciences Centre, and not only in acute mental health beds.
To increase access to specialized and appropriate Mental Health Services in all units, we are developing a new Mental Health Consultation Liaison Service. Through this service, patients with mental health challenges admitted to a non-mental health unit will be provided assessment and treatment recommendations.
“We want to be sensitive to all patient needs, and ensure that mental health is viewed as part of overall health,” explains Dr. Peter Voros, Program Director, Adult and Forensic Mental Health. “The Consultation Liaison Service will aim to provide timely mental health consultation for adult patients admitted to medical, surgical and critical care units within our Health Sciences Centre.”
The interprofessional consultation team will consist of psychiatry, mental health nursing and medical learners. Referrals will be made through the physicians providing care to patients who are experiencing symptoms of psychiatric distress while they are in hospital for a medical or surgical reason.
Once the service in up and running, patients would benefit from: referrals to psychiatric or behavioural management, liaison with the referring treatment team, ongoing monitoring of mental status during hospitalization, and facilitation of transfer to other mental health care services as required.
“This new service will help us enhance the delivery of mental health care to all patients, regardless of where they are in the hospital,” said Voros. “We believe this will be a significant step forward towards achieving our strategic goals of increasing access to specialized and appropriate mental health services on all in-patient units, and developing clear treatment plans for mental health patients outside of mental health beds.”
As part of our Patient and Family Centered Care philosophy, the Consultation Liaison Service will also provide assistance and support for the family members of patients. This multi-disciplinary approach will ensure that patients and families are receiving the right care, at the right time, in the right place.