Mental Health

A Proud Tradition of Innovation

The Mental Health Mission of the MUHC incorporates the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology.  

Services in Psychiatry consist of:

  • Emergency Psychiatry
  • In-Patient Psychiatry
  • Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry
  • External Services (Out-Patient Psychiatry)

There are two Psychiatric Emergency Services, one on each adult site, with 24-hour coverage.  The ERs serve as the point of admission to the In-Patient Unit.  Not all patients require admission, and our liaison team ensures that they are referred to the resources they require to help them recover.  

The In-Patient Services recently amalgamated at the Montreal General Hospital Site, on the newly-renovated 4E and 4W.  The unit consists of 49 acute-care beds, and treats patients at the most acute phase of their illness, stabilizing their condition to ensure that they can return to the community.  Working in an interprofessional team, the physicians, nurses, and allied professionals operate according to Best Practice to treat patients.  The unit had the opportunity to participate in the pilot project of the innovative TCAB (Total Care at Bedside) program.

The Consultation-Liaison Service operates on the RVH and MGH sites.  The interprofessional team, consisting of psychiatrists and nurses, provides consultations to the Inpatient services in Medicine, Surgery, Neurology and Women’s Health.  The liaison branch of the service has mental health professionals working in close collaboration with adult services such as the HIV Clinic, Transplantation, Oncology and Fertility. 

There are two Day Programs in the Mental Health Mission. The Day Hospital, located at the Allan Memorial Institute, offers five-day-a-week programming for patients. A combination of individual and group therapy is used, and patients learn symptom and medication management, as well as preparing for re-entry into the workplace or the community. It is noteworthy that ours was the first psychiatric Day Hospital in North America. The Transitional Day Program, based at the MGH, offers similar programming, for a more acutely-ill group of clients. It functions as an alternative to hospitalization, allowing patients to benefit from a therapeutic setting while being able to remain in their home. 

The Mental Health Mission's External Services include the Module for Evaluation and Liaison (MEL), which provides consultation and brief follow-up for new patients referred from the Emergency Room or the CLSC. We also offer the following programs: Addictions, Anxiety Disorders, Early Psychosis and Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders (EPSSP), Mood Disorders and Personality Disorders. Each of these utilizes interprofessional expertise in treating the symptoms of a specific diagnostic group. 

The Mental Health Mission serves as a training center for a variety of disciplines including:

  • Medicine (graduate and post-graduate)
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Social Services 

One of our flagship units is the Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy Unit. Trainees come from a variety of disciplines to learn this valuable modality of therapy, which has become standard practice.

Throughout the years, the Mental Health Mission has been on the cutting edge of clinical research, participating in clinical trials for new therapeutic techniques that have become the gold standard for treatment. These include numerous antidepressants and antipsychotics, light therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder and other treatments that have enhanced the quality of life for our patients and minimized the side effects of former medications.

We are currently involved in two innovative projects, one low-tech and one at the cutting edge of technology.

  • Our Wellness Program helps people learn to eat better on a budget, and develop a healthy lifestyle through physical fitness. For a population that has traditionally had poor nutrition and low compliance to fitness programs, the results are both encouraging and exciting. 
  • The latest addition is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to treat intractable depression. This is currently being studied through our Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics Unit. 

These efforts highlight the fact that although mental health care is focusing more and more on the functioning of the brain, the mind-body connection is still an integral part of treating the person with a mental illness. 

The Psychology Department provides consultations to the various programs and services, both In-Patient and Out-Patients, and offers a wide variety of individual and group therapies to our patient population. As the MGH is a designated Level 1 Trauma site, it was only natural for the Mental Health Mission to be involved in treating trauma patients. Traumatic Brain Injury is an ongoing area of research and clinical practice, and we look forward to expanding our efforts in this area.