Mental Health services now offered to residents remotely

Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Mental Health Remote Care Monitoring Program may be a new frontier in mental health support for the residents of Fort Frances.

The program recently launched in February. Clients experiencing mild to moderate anxiety or depression can learn new wellness strategies through SeamlessMD, a patient engagement application designed for healthcare providers.

Patients can also complete daily, weekly, and biweekly questionnaires to track their recovery journey.

“It’s downloadable, you can do it on the computer, you can do it on a tablet, and iPad, your phone, and every day it’ll give you information on strategies for mental health,” said Pauline Hyatt, Director of Services at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Fort Frances Branch.

The program also provides assessment and follow-up, creation of personal digital care plans, health checks with automated recommendations, access to a relevant mental health education library, safety planning, and referral and advocacy.

The virtual library hosts a variety of topics pertaining but not limited to addictions, nutrition, and sleep. “You have a plethora of information right in your hands,” Hyatt said.

She added that the program is a wonderful tool for patients waiting for further counseling treatment or for anyone who is interested in improving their mental health.

The program only receives patients by referrals that can be received from a nurse practitioner at the Fort Frances Family Health Team who assesses for mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression according to the GAD-7 and PHQ-9 assessment tools.

Hyatt said that the Family Health Team currently has three nurse practitioners who will then send referrals to Rikki Kellar, the remote care coordinator.

Individuals aged 18 years or older are eligible for the program and must be living in the Fort Frances catchment area and already a patient of the Family Health Team.

The entire program lasts 60 days, a sufficient amount of time to learn the tools needed to make lifestyle changes, said Hyatt, however, the program can be extended on a case by case basis.

As an app-based program, devices are available to be borrowed by those enrolled who do not have access to their own.

Hyatt said she is really happy they are able to offer the program to the community.

“It’s a wonderful thing. I downloaded it myself when we were in the implementation stage, and it’s very user friendly,” Hyatt said.

She added that who are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression are encouraged to speak with a nurse practitioner.