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Medical Psychiatry Alliance eBulletin

Spring/Summer 2016

Executive Director of the Medical Psychiatry Alliance, Dr. Benoit Mulsant.

Executive Director's Message

Don't our children and youth deserve better?

At the most recent MPA Advisory Committee meeting this spring, Dr. Tony Pignatiello, MPA Director of Child and Youth Health and Family Services, reminded us that until about 600 years ago, artists typically depicted children as miniaturized adults in their paintings. Today, we know that children are not ‘little adults’.

In our first, official issue of the MPA eBulletin, we invite you to learn more about the MPA’s mandate to integrate mental and physical care for our youngest patients. In addition to a feature article by Dr. Pignatiello, you will read about our current child and youth care initiatives working toward healthier, happier children today and for generations to come. This issue also aims to provide you with the latest news from across the MPA universe of integrated care, education and research.

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How do we provide timely access to integrated care?

Dr. Tony Pignatiello

Over 20 per cent of children with physical health conditions are also living with mental health difficulties at the same time, such as delirium, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, anxiety disorders and others. Delivering the level of care these children require is extremely challenging.

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Save the date! 2016 MPA Annual Conference

Titled "Collaborative approaches for children and youth with co-existing physical and mental health conditions," this year's annual MPA conference will be hosted by The Hospital for Sick Children at The Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning on October 5-6, 2016. The first day will be open to all audiences, while the second day will focus on working sessions for invited attendees. Registration will be open soon (see for updates).

Representing MPA child and youth care work, internationally
Sept. 18-22

The SickKids' Pediatric Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry program will be presenting the MPA's vision and mandate for integrated child and youth care at the 22nd International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions World Congress, as well as at the 36th Annual Conference for the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (IACAPAP 2016), which jointly take place Sept. 18-22, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta.


Better delivery of healthcare services needed for patients 

Co-authored by Dr. Valerie Taylor, the new study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry in May 2016 is titled "Rates of Mental Illness and Addiction among High-Cost Users of Medical Services in Ontario."

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ECHO recognized at international conference


The ECHO Ontario Mental Health team at CAMH and U of T recently attended the second international Meta-ECHO conference in New Mexico, and won the 'Judge's Award for Research' for their poster. Members of the team, who are working in alignment with the MPA, attended the conference with representatives from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Ontario College of Family Physicians and ECHO Ontario Chronic Pain. The award-winning poster was presented at CAMH's Queen St. CEO Town Hall on May 4, along with other MPA initiatives.

Demand for child and youth mental health care steadily rising 

Dr. Paul Kurdyak, MPA Director of Health Outcomes, recently published a study which found a one-third rise in ED visits over six years for children and youth presenting with mental health and addictions problems.

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In the News

Dancing in the dark

Summer 2016; U of T Medicine Magazine

Tests and doctors’ visits gave no insight into Rachel’s chronic pain, muscle spasms and neurological symptoms. The 16-year-old had been a healthy, vibrant ballet dancer. The first signs of trouble came after Rachel fell and hit her back during an audition for a professional dance school a few hours from her home in central Ontario.

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Your mental health can affect your heart health

May 2, 2016; The Toronto Star
Dr. Valerie Taylor

Imagine a teenager recently diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. She gets a prescription that helps, but also makes her gain weight — a lot of weight. It’s a common side effect, she’s told, but isn’t her mental health most important?

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What's New

I survived a brain tumour but almost lost against depression

Jessica Murphy

I grew up with this growing conflict within my head, waiting to be found. I had absent seizures and very bad headaches every day for about a year.  I had no idea that these were so serious. The day of my 12th birthday party, October 15, 2010, was a pivotal moment in my life.   

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A unique approach to integrating healthcare for seniors

Care manager Lisa Ahmed has a unique and innovative role at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga. Working within a new integrated healthcare model currently being piloted at THP, she is responsible for helping patients receive timely and coordinated access to the services they need.  Her patients are seniors living with both mental and physical illnesses. 

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Better medical care for patients with severe mental illness

Briget has been battling depression since she was a teenager. When she migrated to Canada eight years ago from Germany, Briget spent the first six years trying to navigate a disconnected health care system for help not only with her spiralling depression, but also the issue of increasing weight gain --an unexpected side effect of her antidepressants.  

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Mental Health Week 2016: Celebrating the MPA 

MPA projects were on full display at a Poster Gallery session during the bi-annual staff Town Hall meeting at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on May 4, 2016.  The Town Hall event, which coincided with Mental Health Week, was hosted by Dr. Catherine Zahn, CAMH’s CEO and President.

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New training resources to strengthen health integration

In two events co-hosted this spring by the MPA and Trillium Health Partners, healthcare providers came together to help shape the future of collaborative care education and training. Participants learned about collaborative integrated care models for patients with co-existing mental and physical illnesses.

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Welcome and congratulations to our new MPA staff & appointments!

  • Julia Cottle: MPA Project Manager based at THP
  • Indira Fernando: Research Analyst for the MPA Brain-Heart Initiative
  • Dr. Tony Pignatiello: Chair in Child and Youth Medical Psychiatry at SickKids
  • Dr. Adrienne Tan: MPA Fellowship Lead based at U of T

$5 million gift unveiled at Trillium Health Partners 

Trillium Health Partners is proud to announce a $5 million gift from philanthropists Gordon and Donna Feeney that will help transform how health care is delivered for seniors. The hospital celebrated this generous donation on Monday, May 30, where the signage for the new Centre was unveiled.

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Live painting competition donates proceeds to MPA

On May 11, SickKids Foundation and the family law professionals at Collaborative Practice Toronto (CPT) hosted an Art Battle of Canada fundraiser in support of the MPA. The event raised over $20,000 in support of a fully integrated model of clinical care for children and families at SickKids, for healther, happier children today and for generations to come.

SickKids Foundation staff donate in 'Dragon's Den' style 

In an exciting 'Dragon's Den'-style competition held at SickKids, the MPA was the winning recipient of $14,812 from the SickKids Foundation Believe Endowment Fund. Established by Foundation staff in 2005, every year a portion is donated to a fundraising priority for the Hospital. MPA won the vote this year!  A big thank you to the fundraising leads, who successfully persuaded their colleagues that the MPA is a worthy cause.

MPA Spotlight

CL Psychiatry: Assembling the right team for better integrated care

Having a complex condition at a young age can take an immense physical toll on a patient, but the experience can also place a significant burden on their mental health. Without an integrated approach to care, effectively addressing their needs can be difficult. To address this challenge, the CL Psychiatry Program, formerly called Medical Psychiatry, at SickKids was established in 1979 to provide comprehensive, interdisciplinary and collaborative care to children and adolescents. 

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