Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO)
Within communities across Ontario, there is often an intersection where issues in mental health and poverty meet, placing the responsibility of addressing this complex, twofold problem on those who work the frontlines and who administer first-encounter support and care. These professionals are often not equipped with the skills needed to address both facets of an individual’s needs simultaneously. In circumstances where an individual displays behaviour associated with serious mental illness, training in cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis (CBT-p) can lend practical and immediate techniques to enable a professional to assess and intervene a situation effectively.
CBT-p is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that is increasingly used as a therapy for serious mental illness, including schizophrenia and psychosis. CBT-p helps a person become more conscious of their beliefs and patterns of thinking.
The overall question the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario’s three-year LPRF project aims to answer is whether CBT-p training for frontline staff has a positive effect on clients with serious mental illness, leading to measurable improvements in the management of their disease, their ability to participate in community supports, improve retention in programs and avoid escalating poverty .
Now in year two, we have trained 31 frontline workers based on the work of Dr. Douglas Turkington, professor of psychosocial psychiatry, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, UK, and have received the following feedback from our community partners:
- Staff highlighted their capacities for stronger communication and teamwork.
- Seeing results firsthand made trained staff want to use the CBT-p tools and strategies.
- Whole teams are now taking turns as opposed to having the same 2-3 workers called for assistance.
- When staff use CBT-p trained techniques, “Clients [are] more approachable, less threatened and more able to engage in conversation”.
We’re seeing how training and coaching teams in CBT-p can foster an ecology of complex change and benefits for the project’s intended beneficiaries: people living in poverty with hearing voices or chronic mental illness.