How Can the Harmonized Health Model Be Replicated in Communities?

On both a short- and long-term basis, the project team has a clearer vision of how a HH model could provide opportunities for significant and meaningful change in the way mental health services are provided in other communities. The project team highly recommends the establishment of a small, diverse panel to further develop the HH project learnings. There is the potential for the model to be incorporated into correctional institutions and Indigenous communities. Core HH components can be combined with other community-specific potential adaptations, such as conflict management, sweat lodges, and drumming circles.

Drawn hands holding each other

"We were dealing with some difficult issues and each week we felt better equipped to handle our own emotions so that we could better help our struggling family member. My husband was quite reluctant at first, and I could see him learning a lot and taking it into practice more and more each week. It also helped us as a couple to better communicate. We were lucky to be in a fantastic group where everyone made each other feel comfortable and heard."
~ HH Families Helping Families Participant

HH Project Recommendations Made to the Alberta Government

This clearer vision can help to ensure better outcomes for affected members of the community, with potential for improved efficiencies in how health care dollars are spent.

Drawn hand offering

Brief highlights include:

  • Proportionally reallocate existing Alberta Government heath funding and resources to provide individuals with an annual mental health spending account with the caveat that this is only spent with providers and clinics operating within an integrated model. This allows clients to take ownership, accountability, and responsibility for their care and make an informed choice about how and where they spend their health care dollars.
  • Establish peer networks and infrastructure to provide community support (individuals and families).
  • Establish a Care Coordinator role to provide clients with initial and ongoing touchpoints to personalize their journeys while improving access to care.

Taking It One Step Further

TUF continues to explore the concept of a Healthy Brain Community Hub (HBCH). Building on everything we have learned since 2016, TUF’s high-level concept is to take the Harmonized Health (HH) model into a wellness hub that will provide ongoing easy access to current, science-based knowledge and information utilizing the best practices of experts and professionals. The HBCH we envision incorporates private practice, government, and community, all using the efficacy of a patient-first model.

The state-of-the-art HBCH would complement existing medical care systems, not replace them.

  • Medical professionals can make patient referrals to the centre for cutting-edge mental health care and diagnoses.
  • With individuals and their families at the core, they will be supported by a wide network of services and providers, some of which are on-site while others may remain in their existing locations or provide services virtually.
  • With a keen focus on advancements in innovative approaches to mental health care through leveraging research done by others, the HBCH will integrate these learnings as appropriate.
  • Other municipalities, organizations, and agencies would be able to leverage the HBCH learnings and best practices through education sessions and site visits.
  • The HBCH can also offer virtual capabilities to expand our reach to rural and remote areas. The HBCH could also accept referrals from outside the immediate area.
  • The medical research would be done by places like the Hotchkiss Institute at the U of C; however, those research facilities could use the HBCH to test practical applications of their research at the community level.

The HBCH we envision would:

  • House the HH community roles of Care Coordinator and Community Peer Network Coordinator.
  • Incorporate a drop-in facility (a physical implementation of ‘hotline’ type services) for those who wish to obtain information proactively.
  • Meet each person where they are at and connect them to the community services that are the best immediate fit, whether the hospital, counselling, or even e-mental health service referrals.
  • Offer an integrated training hub for physicians, service providers, and the community. CSAM certification, Brain Story, and C-PROM training are examples.
  • Advance comprehensive assessments through the addition of brain neuroimaging.
  • Potentially include some type of emergency short-term 30-day bed service for those awaiting treatment.

TUF is currently exploring funding options to perform a feasibility study for a proof-of-concept of HBCH. Until there is long overdue, fundamental change in how mental health services are funded, TUF continues to fundraise and pay for individuals’ fee-based counselling and family programs on an as-needed basis. This funding model is not sustainable long term but helps ensure clients are not left out of accessing necessary services just because they cannot afford them.