Improved mental health services at Sudbury hospital will eventually be provided across the North

Health Sciences North (HSN) has been chosen by Ontario Health as one of six health organizations to serve as a Network Lead as part of the expansion to Ontario’s Structured Psychotherapy Program, the hospital said in a news release Friday.  

HSN said it is the first publicly funded program of its kind in the region and this will lead to expanded access to structured psychotherapy in Greater Sudbury and across Northeastern Ontario.

The hospital said the Ontario Structured Psychotherapy Program provides access to evidence-based, short-term, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for people with mild to moderate depression and anxiety and anxiety related disorders. CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps people to develop alternative ways of thinking and behaving, helping to reduce their psychological distress, said HSN.

Mel Ducharme, Regional Lead for Structured Psychotherapy for Northeastern Ontario, said the program will eventually expand into other parts of the North. 

“HSN will act as the centralized access point for referrals and delivery of psychotherapy services. The delivery of these services will eventually be offered at delivery sites across Northeastern Ontario,” said Ducharme.

The importance of the program was explained by Jodi Hickey,  a clinician in HSN’s Mental Health and Addictions Counselling and Treatment Program who provides structured psychotherapy to clients.

“Structured psychotherapy is one of the most evidence-based paths to recovery from mood and anxiety challenges, which are the most common mental health challenges we experience,” said Hickey.

“While psychotherapy can be hard work, it can also offer the opportunity to not just cope with symptoms, but reduce or eliminate them,” she added.

Dr. Natalie Aubin, Administrative Director for HSN’s Mental Health and Addictions Program welcomed the announcement. 

“This is exciting news for our patients across Northeastern Ontario as high quality services will become available to those who previously did not have access to these types of services. By closing these gaps,  we are able to bring equitable access to patients and families living in remote areas. This ensures patients receive the right care at the right time,” said Aubin.

HSN said the New Network Lead Organizations were selected based on their experience and capacity to provide clinical, fiscal, and administrative oversight of a networked program. As a new network lead, HSN will begin working closely with health service providers to identify new service delivery sites in the region, while developing governance, fiscal, clinical and administrative infrastructure to prepare to meet the healthcare needs of clients of Northeastern Ontario. 

Hospital president and CEO Dominic Giroux said the expansion falls in line with HSN’s 2019 – 2024 strategic plan which commits to improving access to mental health and addictions care at HSN in the community. 

“I want to commend our team, under the leadership of Vice-President Maureen McLelland, and our partners for this significant accomplishment,” said Giroux.


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