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Durham Mental Health Services integrates with Lakeridge Health

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In an effort to reduce wait times to access mental health and addictions support, the region has integrated its services with Lakeridge Health. – Aug 25, 2020

The region’s mental health services and Lakeridge Health have voluntary integrated their services in an effort to provide a more comprehensive experience for clients.

By implementing a centralized information system, the organizations anticipate reduced wait times and easier accessibility to mental health and addictions services.

It comes as Lakeridge Health says it has seen a 50 per cent increase in mental health clients over the last decade.

“They’ll have one health record, or one electronic medical chart, so we’ll have a history on people who have been seen by Durham Mental Health or Lakeridge Health, so it’ll be a more comprehensive system,” said Susan de Ryk, interim president and CEO of Lakeridge Health.

Read more: Whitby, Ont., therapist says more mental health resources needed for people of colour in Durham

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In the past, these agencies have operated independently, holding different files and treatment plans on clients who have used services from both organizations, causing a longer and more difficult experience for those who need help.

“The lack of continuity between the file and the care plan is something that’s been very difficult, and it’s a huge barrier for the client and the service providers,” said Rob Adams, CEO of DMHS.

The organizations say they have 2,000 mutual clients.

One of those clients is Andrew Brown, who says he doesn’t believe he would “be alive right now if [he] didn’t have access to [Pinewood Centre of Lakeridge Health] or Durham Mental Health [Services]. ”

“It saved my life.”

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After suffering through an abusive childhood, Brown developed an alcohol addiction at 13. He’s also been battling depression and post-traumatic stress disorder ever since.

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“A few years ago, after my divorce is when it really picked up and I hit rock bottom and realized then that I needed a lot of help.”

Following his divorce, Brown was evicted, forcing him to live in his car. Eventually, his alcohol addiction got worse.

“It got to the point where I couldn’t function without it,” he said.

“That’s when my mental health really went down.”

Brown was admitted to Lakeridge’s Pinewood Centre as he went through the alcohol detox and withdrawal process. He is now receiving around-the-clock counselling at Durham Mental Health Crisis Services.

Brown works with closely with crisis intervention worker Raja Lal, who says the integration will allow clients to get help faster, while still being able to receive quality support.

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“It’ll help with the bed flow, with respect to the in-house clients, and people who don’t access our beds,” Lal said.

“They can get access to services sooner, get their crisis resolved and move forward in respect to their recovery and their treatment, so that we can work with the next person.”

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As for Brown, accessing these services has made him feel as though he has changed the course of his life.

“For the first time in a long time I can actually see a future for myself…see myself getting back to the way I used to be and the way I should be.”