Transforming mental health care delivery

“As we move Mental Health Strategy initiatives from conceptualization to implementation, we look forward to championing the evolution of mental health care at SickKids and creating a safer, healthier community.” 

– Mental Health Strategy co-chairs Louise Gallagher, Chief of the Department of Psychiatry and the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative, & Darryl Yates, Executive Director, Brain and Mental Health Services 

Up to 40 per cent of children with complex medical conditions have a concurrent mental health condition. Since its inception, the SickKids Mental Health Strategy has engaged interdisciplinary teams in the design of evidence-informed initiatives that promote the integration of physical and mental health care. 

By engaging both pilot clinics and technical teams in operational and technical workflow mapping, the recently implemented Somatization Pathway pilot project is bringing together mental health and physical health teams on a bi-weekly basis to connect around providing care for patients with somatic symptom and related disorders (SSRDs).  

SSRDs are among some of the most diagnosed conditions in paediatric hospitals, causing individuals to focus on physical symptoms to the point of significant distress. To improve the standard of care for these patients, the pilot project connects participating patients and families with a single care manager, to help them understand their care and navigate the transition from hospital to community care. 

In alignment with our Data Strategy’s advancement of integrated data assets across clinical and research services, the Mental Health Strategy is also moving towards the implementation of a Measurement-Based Care Program, using data to improve the early identification and monitoring of mental health symptoms at all clinical encounters.  

These projects are an essential step towards providing care for the whole child, at the intersection of physical, mental and behavioral health.