This project piloted a “Shared Care” model of mental health delivery to improve identification, early intervention, access to appropriate services, and outcomes. The Shared Care model deployed mental health workers and psychiatrists in primary care settings at four sites in Nova Scotia: an inner-city community health centre, an urban family medicine centre, a rural family practice, and a comparison site. Each intervention site had three FTE family physicians on salary and a receptionist, psychiatrist, and mental health worker. The comparison site had fee-for-service physicians. A total of 241 patients gave written consent to participate in the research. The evaluation found that patients at the intervention sites received improved access to appropriate mental health services: decreased waiting times, reduced visits to emergency, more referrals for mental health consultations at their own site, and high rates of patient satisfaction. The patients’ mental health outcomes were improved, and there was improved collaboration and communication between health care providers.
This project was supported by the Health Transition Fund, which was created in 1997 to provide support for evidence-based decision-making in health care reform by supporting pilot and evaluation projects which test innovative approaches to health care delivery. The views expressed herein do no necessarily represent the official policy of federal, provincial, or territorial governments.