First Simulation Centre devoted to training mental health care professionals opens in Canada - News Releases

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First Simulation Centre devoted to training mental health care professionals opens in Canada

opening of the CAMH sim center

On November 30, 2015, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the MPA celebrated the launch of a unique mental health training centre to help health professionals care for patients with complex mental health needs more effectively. 

Called the Simulation Centre, the new education hub is located at CAMH and will provide a safe learning environment for students, trainees, and health professionals to explore their clinical practice and test new approaches to treating combined physical and mental illness. While simulation training has been well-established in physical health specialties such as surgery and anesthesiology, the new Simulation Centre at CAMH is the first of its kind in Canada to focus primarily on mental health care.

“There’s not enough opportunity to rehearse aspects of learning before you actually confront it with your patients and clients,” says Dr. Ivan Silver, Vice President, CAMH Education.  “It’s a missing ingredient in mental health – we do a lot of learning on the job, but we need better ways to prepare clinicians before they actually need to use a skill in practice.”

The new training centre supports the MPA’s mandate to transform the delivery of mental health services for patients suffering from both physical and mental illnesses.

In Ontario, 1.3 million people suffer from combined physical and mental health illnesses. In many cases, treatment of these patients fails because health care professionals are trained to focus on either physical or mental illness but not both at the same time. As a result, physical symptoms with a mental health origin can often go unaddressed.

To meet the challenge of treating people with complex mental and physical health care needs, the MPA is creating a new model of integrated care that includes a new approach to the education of health care professionals. The Simulation Centre at CAMH will train health care staff using the new model of care. 

Dr. Benoit Mulsant, MPA Executive Director and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the U of T, says it's his hope "that in the years to come, we will have trained our health professionals to integrate mental and physical care so that it becomes the norm to do in our health care system." 

In addition to hands-on mental health training available within the Simulation Centre, the MPA is rolling out other continuing education initiatives in the coming year to help health professionals care for this population of patients. In collaboration with Trillium Health Partners and U of T, the MPA plans to offer a medical psychiatry certificate program to equip current health professionals already working in their respective fields with the skills and resources needed to better treat patients suffering with both mental and physical illnesses.

The MPA is already transforming curriculum in U of T’s Undergraduate Medical Education program so that future health leaders will be better equipped to care for patients in a more integrated health care model.

“If we want to teach innovative models of care, we need new tools and approaches,” says Dr. Mulsant.

Established in January 2014 through a $60 million grant, the MPA has a six-year mandate.

During this time, the MPA aims to:

  • Improve quality of life and increase life expectancy for those with serious, simultaneous mental and physical illnesses, while reducing the burden of illness on families, the healthcare system and society
  • Create a new model of c​linical care to support patients with both mental and physical issues
  • Teach current and future health professionals how to prevent, diagnose and treat mental and physical illness within a novel integrated care model
  • Deepen our understanding of the interaction between body and brain regarding co-morbid mental and physical illnesses.