Message from the Executive Director

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Executive Directors Message February 2018

February 2018

Dr. Benoit MulsantIt is not surprising that patients living with a chronic physical illness such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease are at higher risk of developing mental health conditions, given that they are struggling daily with symptoms that impacts their quality of life.

Children and youth who are diagnosed with a chronic illness, are at an even higher risk for developing mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders. We now know that at least 20 per cent of children and youth living with a physical illness are also struggling with mental illness.

Our health care system has been set up to optimally address either a patient’s physical health or their mental health, but not both together. So while a health care provider or team may be focused on providing urgent medical care for a chronic physical illness, the deteriorating mental health may go unnoticed or unaddressed for some time, impacting the patient’s ability to function on a daily basis, including participating fully in their care.

As a result of the Medical Psychiatry Alliance (MPA), a unique partnership focused on integrating health care for patients living with co-existing mental and physical illness, we now have innovative programs in place to help these patients. Check out this inspiring story of a teen who is being cared for through one of these new MPA initiatives. Her story can also be viewed in this impactful video.

As we begin to see the evidence and data on the effectiveness of these initiatives, we are further motivated to work harder, so that we continue to improve quality of life and increase life expectancy for those with simultaneous mental and physical illnesses.

Thank you,

Dr. Benoit H. Mulsant

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Message from the Executive Director, November 2017 -- Current

November 2017

As many of you are aware, nearly 30 MPA initiatives have been implemented in collaboration with our MPA partners. The projects are in transition now; they have wrapped up their pilot run, and are currently being assessed and evaluated for how they impact care and service delivery for patients living with both mental and physical illness.

From these early successes, some MPA initiatives have already begun to scale up within and outside their organization’s walls. 

For example, we are proud to learn that there is interest from other health care organizations  in Ontario in piloting the innovative MPA model of integrated pediatric diabetes care for their patients, currently based at Trillium Health Partners (THP). Our education initiatives to train learners, ranging from medical students all the way to continuing education for health care providers, are attracting attention not only provincially, but also nationally.

Another MPA project focused on prevention is the integrated approach to delirium prevention and management that is currently successfully expanding across patient units at Trillium Health Partners. Check out further details around this model of care under the Feature section of this issue. 

We have now begun to work on a new MPA project that requires collaboration and integration with all four MPA partners: TECC (Technology Enabled Collaborative Care).  This initiative, still in early development, aims to focus on early interventions for First Episode Psychosis (FEP) youth in order to address the physical health needs of these youth.

I hope you enjoy this issue of the MPA eBulletin as you learn more about our progress to transform care for over 1.3 million patients in Ontario living with both mental and physical illness at the same time.

Thank you,


Dr. Benoit H. Mulsant
Executive Director, Medical Psychiatry Alliance
Chief, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

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Message from Benoit Summer 2017

Summer 2017

Dr. Benoit H. MulsantIn 2017, health care providers are seeing major improvement in the treatment and care for patients living with cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic physical illnesses.  Despite their chronic illness, these patients have a better quality of live than ever before.

In the world of mental health, progress has been slower.

Mental health providers seem to be struggling to implement advanced models of care that have been shown to be effective. As a result, we’ve seen an increase on the rate of completed suicide and a tripling in the rate of death from opioid overdose over the past 15 years. We need to address these challenges and apply to mental health care some of the practice advances from other fields of medicine.

For patients who are living with both a mental and physical illness, it is even more crucial that we provide quality, integrated care. As we head into the second half of the Medical Psychiatry Alliance’s mandate, I’d like to echo Dr. Paul Kurdyak, MPA Director of Health Outcomes, when he says, “We cannot change what we cannot measure.”

To that end, MPA teams are currently hard at work refining evaluation processes, measurement and reporting on initiatives, and deepening collaboration between partners.  At the end of our third year, we have generated an MPA scorecard, highlighting progress to date and serving as a benchmark for the next half of the MPA’s mandate.  During the past year, we have:

  • Engaged over 4,000 patients in MPA programs
  • Educated close to 3,000 learners /providers in mental & physical health delivery
  • Involved close to 200 different organizations, with over 900 different workers/providers, in MPA clinical projects
  • Implemented clinical projects with 77% of patients/families engaged in care planning.

We are now planning for the remaining three years of our mandate, by assessing the progress of 24 MPA initiatives against our four strategic goals. I encourage our MPA teams to keep up their dedication and commitment to the MPA, as we work together toward a better integrated health care system for patients with complex health needs.


Thank you,

Dr. Benoit H. Mulsant