In response to a pilot project and needs assessment conducted in Twillingate (Cornish et al., 2003), and a further needs assessment in Bonavista, a programme was developed to focus on interprofessional, collaborative practice skills in six critical domains of mental health practice.
Participants in both communities came from several professions: social work, nursing, police, family medicine, community mental health, emergency medicine, long term care, school counselors, and clergy. They reported the need to increase their knowledge of mental health issues and inadequate referral sources in the community as the main reasons for attending the training. They emphasized the socio-economic problems facing rural communities, the need for assistance when working with alcohol, drug, and gambling addictions, and inadequate educational opportunities for health professionals.
Analysis of the evaluation data indicated a positive response and the value of interprofessional collaboration. Participants reported a high level of confidence in their ability to work collaboratively with other professions, to deal with situations of conflict, and develop interdisciplinary care plans for patients. Specifically, according to pre and post testing, participants increased their belief that patients receiving team care are more likely to be treated as whole persons. Of the eighteen mental health issues addressed, eating disorders, addictions, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse saw the largest increases in participant confidence.
Once participants became familiar with video-conferencing they found a level of comfort communicating through this media. Despite some challenges in the delivery of the video-conferencing, there was an overall appreciation of this type of training that would otherwise be very difficult to provide to rural areas.