Home > Priority given to technology in government-based mental health and addictions vision and strategy documents: systematic policy review.

Lal, Shalini and Siafa, Lyna and Lee, Hajin and Adair, Carol E (2021) Priority given to technology in government-based mental health and addictions vision and strategy documents: systematic policy review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23, (5), e25547. doi: 10.2196/25547.

External website: https://www.jmir.org/2021/5/e25547/

BACKGROUND: The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to deliver mental health and addictions (MHA) services is a global priority, especially considering the urgent shift towards virtual delivery of care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to monitor the evolving role of technology in MHA services. Given that MHA policy documents represent the highest level of priorities for a government's vision and strategy for mental health care, one starting point is to measure the frequency with which technology is mentioned and the terms used to describe its use in MHA policy documents (before, during, and after COVID-19). Yet, to our knowledge, no such review of the extent to which ICTs are referred to in Canadian MHA policy documents exists to date.

RESULTS: Technology was addressed in every document, however, to a varying degree. Of the 39 searched keywords, we identified 22 categories of keywords pertaining to the use of technology to deliver MHA services and information. The 6 most common categories were tele (n=16/22), phone (n=12/22), tech (n=11/22), online (n=10/22), line (n=10/22), and web (n=10/22), with n being the number of policy documents in which the category was mentioned out of 22 documents. The use of terms referring to advanced technologies, such as virtual (n=6/22) and app (n= 4/22), were less frequent. Additionally, policy documents from some provinces and territories (eg, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador) mentioned a diverse range of ICTs, whereas others described only 1 form of ICT.

CONCLUSIONS: This review indicates that technology has been given limited strategic attention in Canadian MHA policy. Policy makers may have limited knowledge on the evidence and potential of using technology in this field, highlighting the value for knowledge translation and collaborative initiatives among policy makers and researchers. The development of a pan-Canadian framework for action addressing the integration and coordination of technology in mental health services can also guide initiatives in this field. Our findings provide a prepandemic baseline and replicable methods to monitor how the use of technology-supported services and innovations emerge relative to other priorities in MHA policy during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Review, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
5 May 2021
Identification #
doi: 10.2196/25547
Page Range

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