Nova Scotia Health partners with Mental Health Commission of Canada to launch Stepped Care 2.0© E-Mental Health project

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In an effort to improve access to mental health and addictions programs, Nova Scotia Health is collaborating with the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to launch Stepped Care 2.0©.
 
Stepped Care 2.0© offers high quality mental health and addiction support extending to online self-help programs, peer and coached programs, and links to community-based supports and virtual visits with care providers.
 
In the era of COVID-19, virtual care is more relevant than ever, and it’s been shown to be as effective as face-to-face interventions. Stepped Care 2.0© is flexible, hurdles geographic barriers to care, and allows the nature of the supports to be “stepped up or stepped down” depending on a person’s changing needs. 
 
“Nova Scotia's launch of Stepped Care 2.0© coincides with the pandemic,” said Louise Bradley, MHCC president and CEO. “But it was several years in the making, which is a testament to the provincial government's understanding of the need for system change - not just during this crisis, but long afterwards as well, when needs may prove to be even greater.” 
 
Stepped Care 2.0© was first introduced by Dr. Peter Cornish and his team at Memorial University. The model was expanded in Newfoundland and Labrador in December 2017, through a partnership between MHCC, Dr. Cornish’s team and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

“Mental health and addictions is an issue that’s important to all of us, as it touches so many of our families and friends,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine. “We continuously look for ways to improve how care is delivered and how Nova Scotians access that care, including virtually. Stepped Care 2.0© is an excellent example of making these important services more accessible, and I am pleased to see it launch here in Nova Scotia.”
 
Nova Scotia now joins Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories in implementing the MHCC-led joint project.
 
“Recovery can look different from one person to another – and so can their journey to achieve well-being,” said Sam Hodder, senior director, Nova Scotia Health Mental Health and Addictions Program. “The partnership with MHCC provides our program with access to the pioneers behind Stepped Care 2.0©, lessons learned through implementation in Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories, and increasing ways to respond to the needs of Nova Scotians. The timing of introducing Stepped Care 2.0© in Nova Scotia couldn't be better.”
 
The Stepped Care 2.0© model is in keeping with the plan of the Mental Health and Addictions Program (MHAP) to transform mental health and addictions care and support in Nova Scotia. 
 
In the 2017 report Milestones on our Journey (PDF), MHAP outlined its commitment to improving access, treatment and coordination of mental health and addictions care.  
 
It made specific commitments through models of shared and stepped care, to increase the use of technology and e-mental health solutions to foster collaboration, support, education, increase access to consultative and other services, and engage people and their families.
 
“We know that too many people don’t access support. For some, the stigma and shame are too great, and others may not know where to start or who to call. Some might not even think that help is out there for them,” said Shaleen Jones, executive director of Eating Disorders Nova Scotia. “With support and treatment a full recovery is possible. Low barrier supports – like online groups – are essential to getting folks started on their healing journey.”
 
Since the completion of the Milestones report, MHAP has focused on rethinking and transforming the understanding of the mental health and addictions system of care and support, their place within it, and the delivery of mental health and additions services in Nova Scotia. 
 
In 2019, they developed Direction 2025, a five-year strategic plan supporting MHAP transformation to support recovery for Nova Scotians living with mental disorders, including harmful substance use and gambling. 
   
With the recent launch of their new website, www.MHAhelpNS.ca, people have 24/7 access to free, confidential e-Mental Health resources supported by donors from the QEII Foundation (e.g., TAO, Mindwell U and ICAN), along with information about care and support provided in outpatient, inpatient and urgent care settings. 
 
The MHCC’s role in the joint project with MHAP is to provide project management, implementation, evaluation and knowledge sharing support. 
 
Based on lessons learned through the Stepped Care 2.0© project in Newfoundland and Labrador, and best practices for implementation, MHCC along with its partners, are in the best position to support the vital services that Nova Scotia Health provides to people across Nova Scotia on a daily basis.
 
“Nova Scotians value their mental health. I have noticed that both the people seeking help and the providers of care are ready for system change,” said Dr. Peter Cornish, project lead, consulting psychologist, honorary researcher at Memorial University, and director counseling and psychological services, University of California Berkeley. They are intrigued by the Stepped Care 2.0© model and excited by opportunities for expanding service options and increasing access to timely care.”  

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Provincial media line: 1-844-483-3344 
NSHAmedia@nshealth.ca