Health workers trained in psychology would be helpful addition to new medical homes, doctor says

·1 min read
Dr. Shannon Curtis says a psychology student who worked with her over the winter helped turn a patient's life around. (Submitted by Shannon Curtis - image credit)
Dr. Shannon Curtis says a psychology student who worked with her over the winter helped turn a patient's life around. (Submitted by Shannon Curtis - image credit)

A family doctor who is part of one of the province's first medical homes says working with a graduate student from the psychology program at UPEI has convinced her these mental-health experts should be part of her team.

Dr. Shannon Curtis said about half of her patients are seeking treatment for mental-health concerns. She was able to refer some to the student, who worked one day a week for four months this winter.

The student offered help to patients, including cognitive behavioural therapy.

In at least in one case, it turned a patient's life around, resulting in fewer visits to the doctor, Curtis said.

"He's getting back into the workplace. He is not on employment insurance anymore, so those costs are lower," she said. "If he continued down the path he was going in, then no doubt he would have been an inpatient in a mental-health facility for sure, probably sooner rather than later, given how he was feeling."

Curtis plans to ask Health P.E.I. to add a psychologist to their team at the Sherwood Medical Centre, one of five patient medical homes launched about a month ago.

Patient medical homes deliver team-based care through a model that has been developed and endorsed by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

The teams at each home include multiple professionals, each working collaboratively within the team to their full scope of care.

CBC News reached out to Health P.E.I. about Curtis's proposal but has not yet received a comment.

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