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HomeExpanding Access to Counselling, Psychotherapy, and Psychological Services

Expanding Access to Counselling, Psychotherapy, and Psychological Services

In spring 2017, the Mental Health Commission of Canada initiated a process to explore policy considerations for expanding access to counselling, psychotherapy, and psychological services in Canada. To capture and build on the important work that has already been undertaken by stakeholders, the MHCC commissioned Dr. Howard Chodos to author a background paper synthesizing relevant literature and stakeholder perspectives on key policy issues and questions.

The background paper informed a one-day roundtable. Held on March 21st 2017, it brought together researchers, policy makers, clinicians, representatives from major professional bodies, and service user groups to share ideas and perspectives on policy considerations. A roundtable summary report was developed to capture and share highlights from the day-long discussion.

*NEW***Psychotherapy Policy Implementation Network (PPIN): Report and recommendations to Health Canada
Considerations for a national psychotherapy program: The time is now – released in February 2022

The Psychotherapy Policy Implementation Network (PPIN) was a project created under a two-year contribution agreement between Health Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). Its goal was to develop recommendations to inform a future plan for increasing access to psychotherapy in Canada.

The PPIN drew together thought leaders, policy makers, practitioners, people with lived and living experience, key stakeholders in diverse disciplines (e.g., primary care, psychiatry, psychology, social work, and counselling) and the insurance sector from across the country to help with practical options for increasing equitable access to psychotherapies. The PPIN’s starting point was a pair of proven models from other jurisdictions: Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), a grant-based program in the United Kingdom (U.K.), and the insurance-based Better Access initiative in Australia.

The PPIN working groups explored prospective funding models; considerations related to quality, implementation, and outcome-based treatment; and virtual care — which was especially informed by the COVID-19 context. A fourth working group drafted a PPIN Declaration akin to the U.K.’s New Savoy Declaration to articulate its perspective on access to psychotherapies.

The PPIN met three times between February 2020 and February 2021, with numerous intermediate meetings among its steering committee and working groups. Those meetings culminated in members’ agreement on a set of recommendations for Health Canada as it considers how to establish an evidence-based, practical, and effective plan to increase access to psychotherapy. This report presents those recommendations.

Discussion Paper – released in August 2018
Expanding access to psychotherapy: Mapping lessons learned from Australia and the United Kingdom to the Canadian context, offers considerations for policy makers and advocates  for the expansion of access to psychotherapies in Canada.  It examines the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from the United Kingdom and Australia’s expanded access programs and explores implementation considerations in the Canadian context. It also provides illustrative examples of how these lessons learned could be adapted to the Canadian context.

Knowledge Translation Products
The MHCC has developed two knowledge translation products to support the dissemination of the Discussion Paper: a snapshot and a summary.

For more information about the MHCC’s work in this area, please do not hesitate to e-mail.