Developing a Common Vision for the Vancouver Mental Health & Addictions System

Vancouver – Today a consortium of partners unveiled the first elements of a new, common vision for a successful mental health and addictions system in Vancouver, along with a prototype set of shared measures to better assess our success and guide future action.

“The project started as a result of a sense of crisis in the system, and today, with the additional increase in opioid overdoses, that sense of crisis is heightened,” says Jonathan Oldman, Executive Director of The Bloom Group.

“While emergency measures need to be taken immediately, it’s also critical that we continue to focus attention on the longer term work to achieve greater clarity and integration within a hugely complex system. Ultimately, that’s what will help us prevent these cycles of crisis in the first place.”

The project’s work is detailed in a new report published today, and included in an update report on the Mayor’s Task Force presented today to City council.

The partners envision a system that provides preventative access to services before crisis, effective response to crisis, and measures to prevent recurrent crisis. Detailed objectives and measures were developed for one of these success factors; “effective response to crisis”.

The project was one of the initiatives flowing from the Mayor’s Task Force on Mental Heath and Addictions. Our goal was to examine whether the “Collective Impact” change model could more clearly define the common vision for the whole care system, and if a set of shared outcome measures could be created.

A group of project advisors encompassing key government organizations (Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, the City of Vancouver, and the VPD), community agencies, and individuals with lived experience guided the project. Coordination was provided by The Bloom Group and the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health & Addictions at SFU.

“The level of consensus achieved from such a diverse range of partners is very encouraging,” says Jonathan Oldman. “It shows that there is far more that we agree on that divides us – even for groups that traditionally have different perspectives on the challenges we face.”

Work is now continuing into a Phase 2, where a live use of a first metrics dashboard is planned, along with the development of objectives and indicators for all 3 system success factors and other activities.

The project partners are committed to increased inclusion from service users and family members in phase 2 of the project, and a feedback survey will be published shortly.

The Bloom Group and CARMHA gratefully acknowledge the funding support of VCH, the City of Vancouver, The Vancouver Foundation, and the Pacific Blue Cross Foundation in furthering this initiative.