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N.L. participating in e-mental health demonstration project

Newfoundland and Labrador is partnering with the Mental Health Commission of Canada on an e-mental health demonstration project.

An e-mental health demonstration project is underway at 15 primary health care clinics in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The provincial government has partnered with the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) on the project.

E-mental health uses the internet and technology like phone apps to allow people in remote and rural areas to receive mental health care when they need it most.

It can also help reduce wait lists for people in urban areas

The MHCC will oversee the scale up and evaluation of the Stepped Care 2.0 model for the general population of rural and urban Newfoundland and Labrador.

The model was originally developed for students at Memorial University by Dr. Peter Cornish.

Cornish, director of the student wellness and counselling centre at the university, is contracted as the lead researcher on the MHCC project.

The Stepped Care 2.0 model has allowed the university's mental health services to help 15 per cent more students and eliminate wait lists.

"We're delighted to support the scale-up of this innovative, homegrown e-mental health initiative that not only has the potential to improve mental health access across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, but also across Canada," provincial Health and Community Services Minister John Haggie said in a news release.

E-mental health is underdeveloped in Canada despite the fact almost 90 per cent of Canadians have access to the internet.

"The Commission's early work identified the potential of e-mental health to reach the 1.6 million Canadians who say their mental health needs aren't being met," said MHCC president and CEO Louise Bradley. "This project is a concrete step towards expanding e-mental health in Canada."

According to research, one session is enough to address the needs of roughly half of people who receive walk-in services.

"Stepped Care 2.0 allows us to treat people with mild and moderate needs earlier, before their needs escalate, substantially reducing or eliminating wait lists and freeing up resources for those who require them most," Cornish explained.

The final report, which will be distributed nationally, will be used to make decisions about the effectiveness and feasibility of using e-mental health to improve access to services.

It will also help with scaling up the use and integration of e-mental health in the public system.

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