LONDON, ONT. -- Researchers based in London, Ont. are sharing the benefits of transitional care for mental health patients as they leave hospital, and the model has garnered the attention of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The immediate period after discharge from hospital, usually the first month, can be one of the most vulnerable times in the life of someone experiencing a mental illness. It can be when they are most at risk of committing suicide,” explains Dr. Cheryl Forchuk, assistant scientific director at Lawson Health Research Institute.

Forchuk is the editor of a new resource book called From Therapeutic Relationships to Transitional Care: A Theoretical and Practical Roadmap.

“As a person-centred, evidence-based model, transitional discharge supports a smooth adjustment from hospital to community,” says Forchuk.

The resource includes a roadmap for implementing the Transitional Discharge Model (TDM) which has been developed across Ontario and recognized by the WHO.

The model was tested in nine hospitals including London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Joseph’s Health Care London.

On average, the length of stay in hospital was reduced by almost 10 days per admission and each site saved approximately $3.3 million per year.

“The inpatient staff continue to care for discharged clients until therapeutic relationships are established with community care providers. At the same time, we have a friendship model of peer support. These are trained people with lived experience of mental illness who have made the same journey,” says Forchuk.

It’s an experience that made a difference for TDM client Lance Dingman.

“It makes a big difference when you’re able to get back to living in the community and in your own dwelling,” said Dingman, who is now a peer support worker in the program.

“As a peer support worker, I sit with people and they tell me their story. It takes me back and I know what they are going through – I was where they are. I can share my own story and tell them what I did to get better.”

Local support lines for those living in London, Ont. area:

  • Supportive Listening Line - Distress Line supporting individuals 16+yo in Elgin, Middlesex, and Oxford Counties 519-601-8055
  • Reach Out Crisis Line - Crisis Line supporting individuals in Elgin, Middlesex, and Oxford Counties 519-433-2023 (call or text) or toll free 1-866-933-2023

National Crisis Hotlines:

  • Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868
  • Crisis Services Canada 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645