Digitizing Stepped Mental Health Care: A Pragmatic Trial

Lay Summary 
Access to mental health care in Canada is considerably delayed compared to other countries; a finding which is due, in part, to an under supply of services and long wait lists. This study will evaluate a new mental health care service model called Stepped Care 2.0 at 15 sites in Newfoundland and 15 sites in Nova Scotia. This new approach to organizing and delivering care will be compared to standard approaches to care. A software system will be designed and used to help manage the new approach. We expect the new approach, along with the new technology, will have the potential to improve the quality of care, reduce wait times and increase access to care, especially for people living in remote areas and those whose changing life circumstances require a more flexible kind of care tailored to their unique challenges. This new approach to care includes a wider range of treatment options, including psychiatric care, individual and group counselling, online treatment programs with built in professional support, self-help resources and peer support. The management system will make it easy to tell quickly when treatment is working well or when a transition in care is required. The program will also allow patients to be more involved in care planning and decision making. Training will be provided to care providers to use the new system. Changes will be made to the program as we learn what does and does not work. This attention to continuous improvement is expected to empower patients to be more resourceful and to encourage providers to be more innovative and flexible. We also expect that programming will be available to more people without increasing costs. In other words, we expect this approach to care to be more efficient, effective and sustainable. Finally, with a team of researchers, patients, providers and other stakeholders representing every province, it will be possible to implement across the country any of the new programming that proves effective. 


Faculty of Medicine
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Mental Health
Industry Sectors 
Health Care and Social Assistance
Start date 
1 Apr 2019
End date 
31 Mar 2023