USask first Canadian medical school to offer continuing education for medical professionals in kids’ mental health

Dr. Anna Felstrom, USask assistant professor of psychiatry, leads the CanREACH-SK program’s training delivery in Saskatchewan. (Credit: University of Saskatchewan)

The University of Saskatchewan has developed a new program to help doctors and nurse practitioners better support pediatric mental health needs in the province.

The program, called CanREACH-SK delivers a mini-fellowship in patient-centred mental health in pediatric care developed at a children’s health institute in New York. The program provides up-to-date, evidence-based training of care providers who assess, diagnose and treat pediatric mental health conditions.

USask is the first Canadian medical school and second Canadian organization licensed to offer the program. The mini-fellowship includes an interactive 15-hour course focused on building skills and confidence in diagnosing and treating pediatric behavioural health problems followed by a six-month, case-based learning program. Participants work with primary care and child and adolescent psychiatry exports.

The program is offered through the university’s continuing medical education division (CME) and is funded by the Ministry of Health.

The ability to address the mental health needs of the children in our province is a priority and this program is an innovative way to enhance necessary skills to provide that vital support,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors, and Rural and Remote Health, Everett Hindley. 

“We are grateful to the Ministry of Health and to CME for their support in delivering this intensive course,” said Dr. Anna Felstrom, USask assistant professor of psychiatry, who leads the CanREACH-SK program’s training delivery in Saskatchewan. “In other areas of North America, this program has facilitated improved patient outcomes and wait-times for service, and we are already starting to see the same effect here in Saskatchewan. This program is helping to broaden the team of physicians and nurse practitioners who can effectively deliver child and adolescent psychiatry care in their practices, which is very exciting.”

As it worked towards becoming licensed to offer the program, 50 health care providers have completed the training and 25 participants are currently enrolled. The next cohort will be offered virtually and is scheduled for three days in January this year.

“We know there’s a need to provide better mental health care for children and youth in the province,” said Dr. James Barton, associate dean of CME. “This CanREACH-SK training addresses that need.”