W53 – Psychiatrists’ Roles in Improving Access to Mental Health Services: An Interactive Dialogue on the Future of Our Profession

W53 – Psychiatrists’ Roles in Improving Access to Mental Health Services: An Interactive Dialogue on the Future of Our Profession

Saturday, Oct. 29
15:45 – 16:45 (1 hr)
Meeting Room: Willow (Mezzanine)
Sarah Jarmain*, MD, FRCPC, CCPE; Nadiya Sunderji, MD, MPH, FRCPC; Jack Haggarty, MD, FRCPC; Phil Klassen, MD, FRCPC; Viraj Mehta, MD, FRCPC; Kevin J. Young, MD, PhD, FRCPC

CanMEDS Roles:

  1. Leader
  2. Health Advocate
  3. Collaborator

At the end of this session, participants will be able to: 1) Describe the contributing factors to lack of access to timely and appropriate psychiatric care; 2) Analyze and reflect on potential gaps between one’s own practice and the key elements of a stepped-care approach; and 3) Identify psychiatrist practice changes that would collectively contribute to improved access to mental health services.

Mental illness is a leading cause of disability in Canada and data suggest widespread unmet needs for psychiatric care. In Ontario, one-third of people visiting emergency departments for a mental illness or addiction have not previously seen a physician for these issues, and less than one-third of patients hospitalized have a physician follow-up visit within seven days of leaving hospital (Canadian Institute for Health Information [CIHI], 2019). Wait times to see a psychiatrist across Canada range from 12.8 to 53.6 weeks (Fraser Institute, 2019). This lively interactive workshop addresses the debate and identity crisis within the psychiatric profession: are problems with access driven by a shortage of psychiatrists, by psychiatrists’ practice patterns, or both? We argue that the solutions to this complex problem require a multi-pronged approach and that psychiatrists have a fundamental role in addressing this problem. After providing a measurement-based, stepped-care framework for matching patient need to level of service, we engage participants in guided reflection on how they can apply this framework in their own practice. The presenters are leaders innovating in mental health service delivery models to improve access and manage psychiatrists, and we will discuss models for managing psychiatrist practice patterns. Using a world café method, participants will explore opportunities to improve access through integrated care models, collaborative team-based care (including physician extenders), technology-enabled care, and care in non-traditional settings. Join us for a participatory dialogue about the human resource changes needed in the training and practice of psychiatry to support these models of care.


  1. Hickie IB, Scott EM, Cross SP, et al. Right care, first time: a highly personalised and measurement‐based care model to manage youth mental health. Med J Aust 2019;211(Suppl 9):S3-S46.
  2. National Council for Behavioral Health. The psychiatric shortage: causes and solutions. Washington (DC): Author; 2017. Available from: https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Psychiatric-Shortage_National-Council-.pdf.