Doctors of BC

Doctors of BC

May 06, 2014 13:56 ET

BC Doctors Support Patients as Partners in Treating Mental Health Conditions

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - May 6, 2014) - An innovative Adult Mental Health learning module is training family doctors to better treat British Columbians with mental health conditions, helping patients return to or stay at work and reducing reliance on medications. Offered by the Practice Support Program (a partnership of Doctors of BC and the Government of BC), more than 1400 family doctors have completed the module since its launch in 2008.

"By providing physicians with mental health care training that focuses on the strengths of the individual patient, we're committed to helping British Columbians lead productive and rewarding lives at work and at home," said Health Minister Terry Lake. "Today's announcement with the Doctors of BC is just one example of the partnerships we are building to help with the challenge of mental illness."

Doctors surveyed after taking part say that learning the cognitive behavioural intervention skills taught by the module has made them 40 per cent less likely to prescribe antidepressants. Survey findings also show that doctors consider more than 78 per cent of their patients to be better or much better able to return to work three to six months following cognitive behavioural interventions. Nearly 90 per cent of patients who continue to work while dealing with mental health conditions are found by their doctors to be better or much better able to continue working three to six months following cognitive behavioural interventions.

"This is a great example of how doctors and government can work together to help provide quality care for patients," said Dr William Cunningham, President of Doctors of BC (formerly BC Medical Association). "The positive outcomes of this training will encourage more doctors to take the training module so that patients around the province can benefit."

"Treatment becomes about collaborative patient partnerships and skills, not only pills, once family doctors complete this module," said Dr. Rivian Weinerman, Collaborative Care Consultant for the Vancouver Island Health Authority and one of the module designers. "Most family doctors have limited - if any - training in skills such as cognitive behavioural therapy before participating in the module. This often means they tend to rely on medications only or referrals when a patient comes to them with a mental health condition."

"The module has helped me tremendously in my day-to-day work with patients with mental health problems. I now feel I have a great basket of useful tools and resources at my fingertips to use where and when appropriate," said Dr. Frank Egan, a family doctor in Victoria who has not only participated in the module but taught it to colleagues for the past three years. "I feel less of a need to refer the less acutely ill patients to other people and am happily collaborating with my patients and supporting them on their journey to better mental health. I have also received a lot of very positive feedback from grateful patients."

The module includes screening and assessment tools and three supported self-management approaches: the Bounce Back program, the Antidepressant Skills Workbook, and the Cognitive Behavioural Interpersonal Skills (CBIS) Manual, which form the core of the Adult Mental Health module. CBIS provides an organized, guideline-based system for physicians to assess patients and to develop treatment strategies that incorporate self-management processes to empower patients to be active partners in their mental health treatment.

BC family doctors and patients are not the only ones benefitting from the module. It has been taught or presented nationally in Manitoba, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Alberta, as well as presented internationally in Hong Kong, Spain and the United States. The Canadian Medical Association features one of the toolkits manuals in its national e-learning anti-stigma course for physicians, in partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

PSP learning modules typically involve three half-day group learning sessions, offered locally in communities throughout the province. Each group session is followed by an action period of approximately eight to 12 weeks during which participants try out what they have learned in their own practice. During action periods, participants receive in-practice support to ensure they get as much benefit as possible from the learning sessions, and have the guidance they need to incorporate newly acquired tools and processes into their everyday practice workflow.

About the Practice Support Program

The Practice Support Program began as an initiative of the General Practice Services Committee (GPSC) - a joint committee of Doctors of BC and the BC Ministry of Health (the ministry) - and now receives additional direction, support, and funding from the Shared Care Committee and the Specialist Services Committee (also partnerships between Doctors of BC and the ministry).

Contact Information