Professor Rachelle Ashcroft's research aims to improve access to high-quality mental health care in Ontario

Monday, July 20, 2015

Rachelle AshcroftA research grant of $295,419 has been awarded to Renison professor Rachelle Ashcroft. The funding will help Ashcroft and her team develop a model that will help Ontarians have better access to mental health care.

“Common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders are highly prevalent in the Canadian population, affecting more than one in five Canadians over their lifetime,” says Professor Rachelle Ashcroft, Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work at Renison University College. “The main objective of our research is to develop a model that describes the system of non-financial and financial incentives that can be used to improve access to high-quality mental health care in Family Health Teams. Our research will also identify existing disincentives that may be deterring access to quality mental health care in Family Health Teams,” says Ashcroft.

Disincentives can arise from problems in design or implementation of particular incentive schemes. For example, time restrictions in the scheduling of patient appointments or limited access to mental health specialists.

In Canada, a number of reforms initiated over the past two decades have aimed to strengthen healthcare with changes to primary care models. Family Health Teams are one example of a newer team-based model of primary care that emerged in Ontario in 2005. Family Health Teams are intended to provide Ontarians with improved access to different types of healthcare services, including mental health services. Primary care settings that bring together family physicians and other healthcare providers are considered one of the best settings for the prevention and management of depression and anxiety.  

The Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Operating Grant has been awarded to Professor Ashcroft and her team over a three-year term. They plan to interview a broad range of people who can help identify ways to improve mental health care in Family Health Teams including direct service users, family members, family physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, psychologists, team directors, psychiatrists, community mental health providers, and policymakers.

“We want to learn directly from people who use Family Health Team services as well as the people who provide care in Family Health Teams, and other key stakeholders, what they think are the best ways to help improve mental health care for people with depression and anxiety,” says Ashcroft.

Principle Investigator:  

Dr. Rachelle Ashcroft
Assistant Professor
University of Waterloo, Renison University College
School of Social Work


Dr. Kwame McKenzie

  • CEO of Wellesley Institute, Toronto
  • Medical Director of Underserved Populations Program, Centre of Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH), Toronto
  • Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

Dr. Simone Dahrouge

  • Director of Research, C.T. Lamont Primary Health Care Research Centre within the Bruyere Research Institute, Ottawa
  • Assistant Professor and Deputy Chair, Department of Family Medicine, University of Ottawa
  • Adjunct Scientist with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in the Primary Care & Population Health Research Program

Dr. Jose Silveira

  • Chief of Psychiatry, Medical Director, Mental Health and Addiction Program, St. Joseph’s Health Centre
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

Dr. Matthew Menear

  • Postdoctoral fellow and KT Canada STIHR fellow in the Department of Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine, Université Laval
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