The Scarborough Hospital’s (TSH) Mental Health department is taking mental health therapy beyond the bricks and mortar of the hospital. As a leading provider of individual and group programming for those living with a major mental illness in Scarborough, TSH is now the first and only hospital in Canada to deliver Internet-Assisted Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) (as part of its Adult Outpatient Program) and a one-of-a-kind Mental Health App Library.
Individuals in need of cognitive behavioural therapy typically face challenges like long wait lists, a shortage of therapists, and a lack of access to a therapist outside of regular business hours. Now, Adult Outpatient clients of TSH’s Mental Health department can access treatment for anxiety and depression wherever and whenever it is most convenient for them.
“By offering this therapy through the Internet, along with these recommended mental health apps to support the process, patients are empowered to get the care they need on their terms and on their schedule,” said Dr. David Gratzer, Psychiatrist, TSH. “It means that more people will get access to evidence-based therapy.”
TSH is excited to announce the launch of iCBT2, a revamped version of iCBT that was originally developed through a partnership with Queen’s University. Available through a physician’s referral, the platform was recently redeveloped to make it more flexible, engaging, and patient-tailored.
Here’s how it works: A TSH therapist (who is dedicated to providing online services) emails outpatients one module per week. Patients can complete them on their own time, and then email them back to the therapist. The therapist blocks off time to review the work and provide written feedback to the patient.
iCBT2 includes more substantive content, interaction, and videos, as well as aesthetic improvements, and takes only six weeks to complete (instead of the previous eight). With iCBT2, the program retention rate is now approximately 80 per cent – an impressive improvement from its previous rate of approximately 10 per cent.
“It helped me understand why I was experiencing certain symptoms, and taught me strategies about managing my anxiety,” says Ashley King, a 28-year-old patient who has suffered from depression and anxiety for many years. “There’s a weekly activity sheet, which is useful in encouraging me to try things out of my comfort zone.”
Mental Health App Library
While many TSH patients already use mental health apps and websites, not all of them are created equally. With this in mind, the Mental Health Adult Outpatient Program curated a Mental Health App Library consisting of 18 TSH physician- and therapist-approved apps for Android and Apple operating systems.
The free apps are designed to help improve mental health. They are meant to complement prescribed treatment plans, and are not intended to replace professional treatment.
“For example, a patient could use a relaxation app while taking transit to a mental health appointment,” says Faiza Khalid-Khan, Director, Mental Health, TSH.
“In this example, the app walks the patient through relaxation exercises, and the patient arrives at their appointment already prepared with thoughts and questions, helping them to get the most out of their therapy session.”
With the Mental Health App Library, patients can access trusted apps that provide support for anxiety, relaxation, depression, sleep, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
For more information on iCBT2, the Mental Health App Library, or other Mental Health programming, visit www.tsh.to/areas-of-care/mental-health/.