OPA 2014 Annual Conference


Last year, Dr. A. Marin, as part of her presidential theme “Preparing the Future”, focused on considering the role of psychiatrists as clinicians, educators and researchers within an evolving health care system.

There has been significant change within Ontario with respect to the perception of mental illness, and the increasing openness with which people discuss their experiences with mental illness and treatment providers. At the same time as people are increasingly and actively seeking help for mental illness, we psychiatrists are increasingly aware of the lengthening waitlists for those seeking psychiatric consultation and treatment. Given limited resources and increasing shortages of psychiatrists in many areas of the province, it has become imperative that we provide care not in isolation, but as part of a health care team that can address holistically the needs of Ontarians seeking assistance for their mental health concerns. Many of us already practice using a more integrated approach to care, through being part of a multidisciplinary team, by providing a shared care approach to a family health team or by meeting regularly with a patient’s family or caregiver. We see and treat patients not in isolation, but as people who are part of families, who work, and who contribute to their communities. We take an integrated approach to care to address not just the biological but the psychosocial aspects of mental illness.

This year’s theme will build on the issues addressed by Dr. Marin. “From Integration to Collaboration” highlights our evolution as health care providers working within a system of care increasingly dependent on the expertise and commitment of many partners, all working to their full scope of practice to cope with the increasing complexities of mental illness. Best care for patients requires us to consider physical health issues, as we increasingly use a more varied and complicated regime of medications in a population with epidemic rates of metabolic illness and obesity. We need the collaboration of our primary care and specialist colleagues to effect improvement in our patients with these issues. We also need to be knowledgeable about the impact of social determinants of health on risk and prognosis of mental illness. Poverty, homelessness, addiction and lack of education can have an incredibly detrimental impact on expression of mental illness, and without collaboration with case managers, social workers, and housing operators, treatment plans to address our patients needs will remain suboptimal. Finally, as patients transition from inpatients to outpatients , or from child and youth mental health services to adult services, collaboration across health care sectors is essential for patients to experience a seamless transfer of care and to ensure the best outcome for them with respect to their psychiatric illness.

Collaboration is an essential aspect of psychiatric assessment, treatment and recovery. It is necessary both for the patient, but also for psychiatrists. Collaboration is talking to, listening to and working with patients and our healthcare partners. It is more than working alongside other healthcare professionals.  This year I plan to meet with you and with those partners necessary for effective collaboration. We will better understand our individual roles within the context of high functioning health care teams, operating within a health care system that allows prompt access and ensures the best care for our patients. I look forward to meeting you over the course of the next year, and hear your ideas and thoughts about mental health integration and collaboration in Ontario.

Dr. Gary Chaimowitz
OPA President-Elect


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