When it comes to treating mental illness, Terry Landry says there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to recovery.
Landry is the Regional Director for Community Adult Mental Health Services at Providence Care.
“We don’t view mental illness as a problem to be solved. When we talk about treatment we use language around recovery and rehabilitation,” Landry explained.
“Every individual is different so they require a different approach. There’s no cure, there’s no pill, there’s no one treatment that’s going to be right for everyone.”
A leader in mental health services in Southeastern Ontario, Providence Care has a wide range of programs to support people experiencing serious and persistent mental illnesses.
And almost all of the community programs have an outreach component.
“Our services are designed to meet people where they are at. We serve some people in clinics and we also have the ability to serve people in their homes, and in their local community,” Landry said.
“We know a lot of people don’t want to come into the hospital, a lot of that has to do with stigma and personal choice. We know that outcomes are better when we go to people and meet them where they are.”
It also keeps people from being admitted into hospital.
Take the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and Community High Intensity Treatment Teams (CHITT). Both provide 24-hour a day service, even on weekends and holidays.
They work with a shared-care model, with inter-professional teams featuring occupational therapists, social workers, nurses, addictions and peer specialists, as well as a psychiatrist, secretary and manager.
Himansu Desai is a Social Worker on the Psychosocial Rehabilitation ACT team.
“We all work together to support our clients on their path to recovery,” Desai said.
“It’s a collaborative work environment. You’re not alone in it; you have other colleagues to support you, to capitalize on their expertise and work.”
The care plan is client-centred, meaning the client has a say in their treatment and social workers like Desai provide support.
“It starts with a conversation about what they’re hoping for and what their goals are,” Desai explained.
“Then breaking it down into what needs to be done to achieve those goals, identifying the changes that need to happen to work towards those goals, and finding out where we can be of support.”
Desai has been with the ACT team since 2002. The team works with a lot of clients with Axis I disorders such as schizophrenia, mood disorders, depression, and anxiety.
“When clients come to us, especially for our ACT team, they are in crisis, their families are in crisis,” Landry said.
“We don’t make promises we can’t keep, but what we do tell people is if they start working with us they may not notice a difference immediately, but if they stick with it, in two to three months they will feel a shift in how things are going, and in eight months to a year, their life could be completely different.”
Depending on the intensity of the mental illness, Desai can see anywhere from three to four, to as many as 10 to 15 clients a day.
“There are some clients where we will be involved for a relatively short duration depending on what their needs are, and others we will work with for years,” Desai said.
“We value all of them, work with them from a compassion standpoint, support them the best we can, and hopefully it’s a positive experience for them.”
As a leader in mental health services, Landry said Providence Care is always evaluating its programs and its approach to care.
“It’s our responsibility to keep up to date and to know what best practices are. Everyone on our teams are regulated health professionals and are required by their colleges to keep up to date with ongoing education.”
He added, one thing that sets Providence Care apart, is its willingness to find solutions no matter how difficult the situation.
“Everyone in the world is going to experience some form of mental distress,” Landry said.
“The mission guides us, so if we have a challenging situation, the answer is always going to be ‘yes, let’s figure it out.”
Both Landry and Desai agree it’s an honour to serve their clients.
“We have a privilege to be in this position. We’re working to help clients live a life they choose,” Landry said.
“You don’t get to spend that duration of time in other parts of healthcare,” Desai added. “You really get to see the impact it has on the clients you serve, and be side by side with them through recovery, which as a clinician is a real privilege.”