Inspired by a TED Talk, Dr. Marilyn Thorpe, a Victoria psychiatrist working through the University of Victoria (UVic) Health Services began the Psychiatric Interdisciplinary Team (PIT) project. Funded by SSC, a 30-minute PIT appointment is structured to incorporate the family doctor’s knowledge of and experience with the student-patient and a psychiatrist’s immediate assessment and care planning. If a more comprehensive review is needed, full psychiatric consultations are scheduled.
“To our knowledge, this integrated team approach is not being used on other Canadian campuses or in family practices in general. PIT holds great promise for adoption in any number of places,” says Dr. Thorpe.
In a national survey conducted earlier this year, 64 per cent of UVic students said they suffered from dysfunction caused by anxiety and 44 per cent from depressive feelings within the past 12 months.
As a result of PIT, students with acute mental health issues are getting help more quickly. Since 2013, wait times have significantly dropped from an average 43 days to see a psychiatrist to 11 days in 2015 for a PIT appointment and 23 days for a full psychiatric consultation. At the same time, psychiatric resources can be re-allocated to support continuing care. Family doctors also gain additional knowledge and skill through the PIT appointment, increasing their capacity to deliver mental health care.
PIT is one of over 45 physician-lead Quality and Innovation projects supported by the SSC. Quality improvement projects are also being supported by SSC through the Physician QI Initiative.