The Ontario government is now offering more mental health services in every region of the province through the expanded Ontario Structured Psychotherapy (OSP) program. For the very first time, adults across the province who have depression, anxiety and anxiety-related concerns, can connect to free cognitive behavioural therapy and other related services. This program ensures that all Ontarians, including those in the northwest, can now have more convenient access to mental health care, closer to home.
“Depression and anxiety are among the most common mental health challenges Ontarians are facing,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “On World Mental Health Day, I’m proud to say that with over 100 OSP service delivery sites across the province and a range of treatment options available, our government is ensuring people have access to free, confidential and connected mental health services when and where they need them.”
Since the initial launch of four locations in 2017, Ontario has significantly expanded the OSP program to full provincial coverage as part of the government’s Roadmap to Wellness in 2020. Now, people can conveniently connect to services at over 100 locations across Ontario that are now fully operational. The program is delivered through nine regional networks of mental health providers that include local hospitals, community organizations and health care providers at different service delivery site locations.
“This program has successfully provided support to many Ontarians struggling with depression and anxiety. We’re pleased that it’s now fully accessible across the province, particularly for priority populations, which are groups at higher risk of poor mental health outcomes, or who experience barriers to accessing care,” said Matthew Anderson, President and CEO of Ontario Health.
The program is inclusive; each regional network works with local Indigenous partners to develop an approach to service delivery that best serves Indigenous communities.
To date, over 66,000 people have enrolled in the OSP program and all regional networks, including Northwestern Ontario, are continuing to accept new clients. Initial success of the program shows over half of those who completed high-intensity treatments had significant reduction in their symptoms, helping them lead happier and healthy lives.
“I am incredibly appreciative for the opportunity to complete this therapy program. It has truly been life changing and I have learned new skills that I will be able to apply for the rest of my life. I would not have been able to afford to access this type of support, so I am very grateful that it was available at no cost. I would absolutely recommend this service and have already done so,” said Ontario Structured Psychotherapy client.
Northwestern Ontario’s regional network is led by St. Joseph’s Care Group. Adults interested in enrolling in the OSP program can self-refer directly through St. Joseph’s Care Group or can be referred by their health care provider.
Through the program, individuals aged 18 and over have access to free self-led or therapist-led mental health services. Self-led resources help clients build coping skills through workbooks, videos and phone conversations with a trained coach. Therapist-led services provide cognitive behavioural therapy to teach clients how to change patterns of thinking and behaviour to better deal with difficult emotions and situations. All sessions are supported by trained mental health professionals to ensure clients can get the care they need, whether they’re in one-on-one or group therapy. The program has also expanded to include online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and clinician-assisted bibliotherapy (CAB) to make it even more convenient for people to access the care they need.
“When we first introduced the expanded OSP program in our Roadmap to Wellness, we said it would be the first of its kind in Canada in terms of its scope, scale and focus on quality,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “We’ve delivered on that promise, and now this successful program connects people in every corner of the province to a unique, multi-layered approach to mental health care. Each client is assessed and matched with a mental health service, resource and level of guidance that best fits their needs.”