Strategic Priorities

Our current mental health system is strong, comprehensive, evidence-based and widely recognized for its excellence nationally and internationally.  It can, however, be further optimized and improved, given new technologies, information management and analytical opportunities, external partner support, and extensive support from our political and military leadership.  For each of the following Surgeon General strategic priorities there will be a clear action plan with expected deliverables and timelines.  This strategy will guide CF H Svcs Gp mental health efforts over the next five years under the day-to-day leadership of the Director of Mental Health.

Optimize Health Outcomes

As with all aspects of health care, the best possible health outcomes for our patients must be our priority. CF H Svcs Gp will:

  • Continue to foster the understanding that mental health is a critical part of total health and strengthen the linkages/integration between primary care and mental health
  • Formalize our system of evaluating and implementing standardized evidence-based care
  • Formally review and report on the latest mental health care treatments
  • Continue to actively engage families in the care of CAF members
  • Formalize the addictions program
  • Formalize the suicide prevention program

Invest in our People

The knowledge, clinical competence, health and well-being of the health care team are critical to the health and well-being of our patients.  Understaffing and system inefficiencies may put an excessive burden on our mental health personnel, thus impacting work satisfaction, retention, and potentially, the quality of health care provided to our patients.  We must continue to focus on recruiting and retaining the highest quality mental health team members by striving to be the workplace of choice.  CF H Svcs Gp will:

  • Follow CDS Guidance to Commanding Officers to support the well-being of those who serve in its chain of command
  • Maintain an active recruitment campaign to fill the critical mental health positions
  • Continue to provide high-level professional development and clinical competency training for all members of the team
  • Communicate clear goals and expectations
  • Lead by example by effectively addressing the mental health needs of those who work within the health system

“While the CAF’s capacity to meet the PTSD/OSI challenge is functioning, it is doing so largely due to the determination and commitment of the mental health providers who continue to deliver quality front-line care despite being severely overburdened and operating in difficult professional environments.” 

-Mr. Pierre Daigle, CAF Ombudsman

Increase Partnerships with Internal and External Agencies

As a component of Canadian society, the CAF’s health system functions interdependently with the civilian health system.  In deployed operations, CAF and allied military health systems are also mutually supporting and sometimes interdependent.  In order to maintain these strong national and international ties, CF H Svcs Gp will:

  • Maximize partnerships with Canadian professional health organizations such as:
    • Canadian Medical Association
    • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
    • College of Family Physicians of Canada
    • Canadian Psychiatric Association
    • Canadian Psychological Association
    • Canadian Association of Social Workers
  • Continue filling knowledge gaps by advancing mental health research in partnership with:
    • Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research and its university network members
    • Defence Research and Development Canada
    • Veterans Affairs Canada
    • Canadian Institute for Health Research
    • Allied military health research organizations
  • Maintain and strengthen international partnerships with United States, Quadripartite, and NATO allies in health-related clinical, scientific and operational bodies
  • Work closely with the Director of Casualty Support Management and Veterans Affairs Canada to optimize transition support for ill and injured CAF members
  • Increase collaboration with interested service and charitable organizations to enhance mental health related services to CAF members and their families

Optimize Use of Technologies

Mental health care delivery requires effective use of technology for diagnosis, treatment, training, education, consultation, rehabilitation and recovery.  Identifying and leveraging innovative technologies that enhance our mental health care capabilities will lead to efficiencies in care delivery.  CF H Svcs Gp will:

  • Implement a national telemental health strategy and capability
  • Assess and incorporate new and innovative technologies that enhance patient care and improve education
  • Enhance the current Canadian Forces Health Information System (CFHIS) to better meet the needs of the mental health system
  • Use technologies to improve access to care

Improve the Efficiency of the Mental Health System

The mental health care model developed under the RX2000 project is based on extensive system evaluations and input from many front-line care providers and administrative staff.  The concept remains sound, but requires validation given developments over the past decade.  CF H Svcs Gp will:

  • Validate the existing mental health care model
  • Eliminate processes and policies that are no longer required
  • Improve the performance measurement and quality assurance framework
  • Institute a mental health outcome management/measurement tool

Expand Mental Health Education and Training

Our mental health education and training program has effectively supported tens of thousands of CAF members and families.  The benefits of mental health training and education are evident at all levels of prevention and treatment and must be expanded and institutionalized within CAF.  CF H Svcs Gp will:

  • Maintain the most scientifically current mental health education materials
  • Ensure that the mental health education program addresses the unique needs of all CAF elements
  • Expand R2MR access to groups not currently receiving this training
  • Educate senior leaders about the types of available mental health education and training
  • Increase the availability of mental health education and training to Reservists
  • Assess and incorporate new technology to improve mental health education and training
  • Include military families wherever possible

Improve Internal and External Communications

Some CAF members may not be aware that the CAF has a high-quality, comprehensive and evidence-based mental health system.  CF H Svcs Gp will:

  • Develop a comprehensive and proactive communication plan to inform all CAF members of all mental health programs and how to access them
  • Ensure that senior leadership is aware of the services available to CAF members and proactively report on CAF mental health and well-being
  • Celebrate successes of the CAF mental health system and its members
  • With the Directorate of Force Health Protection, publish an annual report of CAF suicides with recommendations from and actions taken in response to MPTSR
  • Continue to reduce stigma through an aggressive anti-stigma program in partnership with external agencies, such as the Mental Health Commission of Canada
  • Include CAF families in all communications related to mental health
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