W12 – Collaborative Mental Health Care in Canada: Challenges and Opportunities for Psychiatrists

W12 – Collaborative Mental Health Care in Canada: Challenges and Opportunities for Psychiatrists

Friday, Oct. 20
10:45 – 11:45 (1 hr)
Meeting Room: Junior Ballroom C (3rd floor – North Tower)
Nick Kates*, MBBS, FRCPC

CanMEDS Roles:

  1. Collaborator
  2. Communicator
  3. Medical Expert

At the end of this session, participants will be able to: 1) Outline the key components of effective collaborative mental health care programs; 2) Discuss the roles a psychiatrist can play when working in primary care; and 3) Incorporate the principles on which collaborative care needs to be based within their practice.

The 25 years since the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) and College of Family Physicians Canada published their groundbreaking 1997 position paper on shared (collaborative) mental health care in Canada have seen an acceptance of the importance of better collaboration between mental health and primary care services at the clinician, service, and system level, with many innovative and effective programs across the country. But it has also seen some challenges with a lack of standardized approaches, difficulties with resource availability and sustainability, and insufficient Canadian evidence about what works at a time when consumers’ and family members’ expectations for better collaboration are increasing.
In response, the CPA and CFPC recently updated the 1997 position paper to present a vision for the next ten years. It provides a framework for collaboration that includes common values, principles, and goals and an integrated “Canadian” model, which has nine dimensions. Care should be equitable, person- and family-centred, population-focused, stepped, evidence-informed, and team-based, include quality measurement and build capacity, and be supported by necessary system changes. It discusses how better collaboration can address wider problems facing our health care systems. This workshop summarizes the key areas and recommendations in the position paper. It looks at the implications for psychiatrists, whether working in primary care or any mental health service, with practical tips about improving communication, coordinating care, developing a collaborative partnership with a primary care practice, and working effectively in primary care as part of the primary care team.


  1. Kates N, Sunderji N, Ng V, et al. Collaborative mental health care in Canada: challenges, opportunities and new directions. Can J Psychiatry 2023;68(5):372–398.
  2. Kates N, Arroll B, Currie E, et al. Improving collaboration between primary care and mental health services. World J Biol Psychiatry 2019;20(10):748–765.