1st Break 2nd Break

1st Break


Treatment at Ontario mental health facility  was ‘Torture,’ judge rules. -Toronto Star

An Ontario court has ruled that a provincial mental health facility ran therapeutic programs for years that amounted to torture for the patients involved.

Justice Paul Perell’s ruling came in the midst of a lengthy lawsuit filed by past and present residents of the Oak Ridge division of the Penetang Psychiatric Hospital in Penetanguishene that alleges patients were gravely mistreated. Continue to article….

Ontario mental-health services struggling to keep up with youth demand, report finds – The Globe and Mail

A new report on children and youth mental health and addiction in Ontario paints a bleak picture of the challenges facing today’s youth and the difficulties the health-care system has had in adapting to increased demands. Continue to article…

Demand for youth mental health services is exploding.  How universities and business are scrambling to react – Toronto Star

At age 18, Kimberly could no longer come up with a reason to live.

The Toronto university student locked the door to her parents’ garage, stepped onto a stool in the middle of the room and looped an electrical cord around her neck.

“It’s something I couldn’t explain,” recalls Kimberly, who asked that her last name not be published. “I didn’t understand what was going on in my head . . . You want to give up.”Continue to article…



2nd Break

Toronto Zoo could open soon after tentative deal reached – BlogTO

The Toronto Zoo might not stay closed for the whole summer, so you’ll finally get a chance to see all the adorable baby animals that now call the zoo home.

The Zoo has been closed to the public since May 11 after around 400 employees, who are members of CUPE Local 1600, walked off the job. Continue to article…

Toronto is finally moving ahead to combat overdose crisis – Torontoist

Despite having developed and approved the Overdose Action Plan to tackle the deepening opioid crisis in Toronto back in March, the City of Toronto has taken steps to now fund the plan, as delays from the province have forced the City to “triage.” Continue to article…

The rise and fall of Toronto’s classiest con man – The Walrus

It was the morning before Canada Day 2016, and James Regan needed somewhere to live. A distinguished, even handsome, man of sixty-two with silver hair and a trim moustache, Regan presented himself at the ­Chestnut Park Real Estate office, a luxury brokerage in the heart of Summerhill, one of Toronto’s most desirable neighbourhoods. Smartly dressed, he approached the receptionist and inquired about renting an apartment. Continue to article…


Happy Nurses Week

Happy Nurses week to all our amazing nurses here at SRH!

You are the backbone of the healthcare system!

Here at Mental Notes we would like to recognize the toughest of nurses in the healthcare system, the Psych Nurse.  From in-patient, to out-patient,  and to community nurses, we recognize the hard work you put in.  Mental Health nursing is one the most challenging areas in the field.  We salute you and thank you for the hard work you put in day after day.

So instead of the cliched basket of random snacks or small piece of cake or even breakfast/lunch supplied by our favorite doctors.  Mental notes would like to give all you nurses the gift of laughter.

Enjoy a carefully curated run of Nurses meme’s.

Happy Nurses Week!!

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-Mental Notes

Increasing Clozapine Use by Removing Prescribing Barriers wins first prize at Ontario Shores 6th Annual Mental Health Conference

On Wednesday March 2nd Ontario Shores held their 6th Annual Mental Health Conference. Scarborough and Rouge Hospital participated with an oral presentation on our e-therapy work. We also did a poster presentation on clozapine; led by pharmacist Bob Barnes, this work aims to increase the use of that medication.

Both presentations were well received, and stimulated good discussion.

I’m pleased to report that “Increasing Clozapine Use by Removing Prescribing Barriers,” the Barnes et al. poster, won first prize for a poster presentation at this conference, besting 19 other posters, including from the Royal, CAMH, and UHN.

Bob Barnes (Pharmacist at TSRH) with the winning his winning poster presentation

A few words about the clozapine project:

Increasing Clozapine Use by Removing Prescribing Barriers poster

As you know, clozapine is an effective antipsychotic for people with treatment-refractory psychosis, yet it is often not prescribed. The clozapine program features two core elements to increase clozapine use:


  1. A change in culture.
  2. A change in monitoring.


The change in culture includes several steps: clozapine prescribing has been declared a priority in our department; a clinical champion has been named; policies have been changed to allow for both inpatient and outpatient initiation.

The change in monitoring involves a first-in-Canada project, moving to blood monitoring via point-of-care (that is, finger-prick) testing. This change required an investment in new equipment and a change in departmental policies.

And a few words about research in our Mental Health PSG:

We continue to do solid, clinically-relevant research. In 2012, we had zero published abstracts; in 2016, we had 12 published abstracts.

So congratulations to Bob, and all the poster co-authors (Dr. H. P. Nguyen, Dr. I. Nwachukwu, S. Balasingham, Z. Bana, F. Khalid-Khan, P. Sheldrake), as well as our e-therapy presenters.

And congratulations to everyone involved in research at our department.

Dr. David Gratzer

Here are some photos of TSH’s presentations:


“Congrats to all involved.  Continue with the leadership your department  is showing in thus area and in your innovative  approaches  to patient care. “

-Naresh Mohan (Chief Medical Officer TSRH)

Mental Notes and the whole Mental Health Department at the Scarborough Hospital is proud of our representation at Ontario Shores 6th Annual Mental Health Conference.  The MH team continues to push innovation all for the benefit of the community of Scarborough.



In the past decade that I’ve been working in Mental Health at the Scarborough Hospital, I’ve watched the department transform.  From 2 separate Inpatient units at 2 different sites merging to the Birchmount Site (formerly the Grace Division), to 3 different regime changes in Management, to the style/manner of care delivered to our community, it has truly been an eye opening experience.

My career as a nurse in Mental Health was mainly spent on the Inpatient units (3C/3B/PIOU).  For those familiar with the acute setting, your days/evenings/nights are usually busy.  During this time on the Inpatient units I would occasionally hear about other programs that our department offered.  Programs with acronyms like ACTT, JAMH, and AOP come to mind instantly.  I personally didn’t know much about these programs other than that patients that we would see regularly within the year were followed up by them.  Occasionally a strange face with a hospital ID would appear on the floor to talk about a patient I was assigned to that day to discuss discharge planning.  Unbeknownst to me this person was their ACT Team worker and has been following up with this patient for months, sometimes years, and extremely familiar with the patients presentation as well as what their baseline is.  It intrigued me, a little, but I was more concerned about taking my lunch break on time as I still had to take a couple blood sugars to take before I could do so.  These brief interactions were all I had with these people, other than seeing them at Quarterly staff meetings or the occasional Grand Rounds.  Saying that I didn’t care much what went on beyond the care I gave on the inpatient unit would be an understatement.  Again, my interest was a 2 on a scale of 1-10.

Fast forward to today.  I’m not a staff nurse and nor do I work directly with patients.  My new role involves interacting with not only the inpatient staff, but as well as outpatient staff.  In my new role I have been in contact with pretty much all areas of TSH’s Mental Health Department.  In the past couple of years I have gotten a full scope of what our department offers.  In hind site of my experiences as an inpatient nurse I realized how little I knew about what went on past those magnetic doors.  Those strangers that used to pop up on the floor and during Grand Rounds became familiar.  Acronyms like JAMH & ICM actually meant something and I knew who was responsible for patients under their care.  Nurses responsible for giving injections at the popular Depot Clinic had names and learned they knew just as much as inpatient nurses did about our patients.

That being said, I was approached by our new Inpatient PCM, Candace Roker, about creating a newsletter for Mental Health.  She felt that my position within the department was valuable and that I could possibly put something together.  We both agreed there was a social and communication gap between inpatient and outpatient staff.  I mulled on this for a couple of weeks.  I was able to get copies of older versions that were created in previous years.  They were nice and informative.  But there was a lack of consistency as well as the information provided.  I was courting the idea of a weekly/bi-weekly E-Mail styled newsletter.  I even consulted with the famous “Reading of the Week” psychiatrist, Dr. David Gratzer, who suggested I take a different route than what was delivered before.  Even veering away from an Email based newsletter.  This threw a wrench in my idea machine.

I mulled over for a few days….. What was I to do?

Things I had to consider:


-Has to appeal to all staff and bring a sense of community within the department

-Provide information about all areas in Mental Health

-Not be an EMail


Then it dawned on me!  A BLOG!

I personally frequent other blogs on the internet and find blog feeds easier to digest.  Information gets passed in a timely manner and is fed to the reader in a way where they can just scroll through at their own pace.

I needed a name and was quickly forwarded to a quick witted Crisis worker, Tim Worth, who proved his wittiness with the first thing that came to his head.

“Mental Notes”

And so here we are.  The very first post of a new and exciting endeavor.

Hopefully in the upcoming weeks we will be able to curate articles, interviews, celebrations, news, thought provoking conversation, ideas, criticisms, and anything under the sun that relates to our community as staff in the Mental Health department.

Welcome to Mental Notes!