The Knowledge, Innovation, and Partnerships team at BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services (BCMHSUS) has unveiled an innovative new educational resource for those who provide services to people with concurrent mental health and substance use challenges.
The Online BCMHSUS Concurrent Disorders Toolkit
is for anybody who works with people who live with concurrent disorders. This includes people who work in health care settings, staff in complex care or supportive housing units, outreach workers in not-for-profit drop-in centres, community centres, staff at reception desks, support workers in long-term care facilities, and more.
"Concurrent disorders are among the most challenging and complex to understand and to treat. What we’ve done here is to create one educational resource that integrates an evidence-based concurrent disorders competency framework with a tool that supports ongoing, self-directed professional development.”
“Concurrent disorders are among the most challenging and complex to understand and to treat,” said Rick Johal, clinical resource therapist with BCMHSUS who led the development of the toolkit. “There are excellent materials available to educate people about substance use disorders, others for complex mental health disorders, but fewer that deal with both. What we’ve done here is to create one educational resource that integrates an evidence-based concurrent disorders competency framework with a tool that supports ongoing, self-directed professional development.”
The toolkit is the product of a process that began in 2018 when the team at BCMHSUS conducted an environmental scan to compile the most promising practices and workforce competencies for screening, assessing and treating concurrent mental health and substance use disorders. This led to the creation of a new, made-in-B.C educational framework that contains 16 competences across four key domains.
Justine Patterson, executive director of Knowledge, Innovation and Partnerships at BCMHSUS, says including the perspectives of people with lived and living experience of concurrent disorders was an important part of the development process.
“People with lived and living experience of mental illness and substance use are the real experts,” said Patterson. “By combining their experiences and perspectives with those of our clinicians, educational and medical experts at BCMHSUS, we can create resources that truly benefit those who need them. This toolkit is an example of that.”
The toolkit is designed to guide learners through a self-assessment of their current skills and knowledge related to concurrent disorders, and to then set learning goals for professional development. Learners are prompted with recommended levels of competence in each area based on their self-identified occupational role. In this way, the self-assessment provides learners with feedback on where to focus future learning activities.Access the Concurrent Disorders Toolkit
In addition to supporting self-assessment against the concurrent disorders competency framework, participants can also set goals for related professional development, and create customized learning plans to build knowledge and skills in each area. The toolkit provides a catalogue of evidence-based resources as well as activities learners can customize to enhance their knowledge and skills in each competency or competency domain, for example participating in a community of practice, or seeking mentorship.
“This raises the bar for professional education related to concurrent disorders.”
“This raises the bar for professional education related to concurrent disorders,” said Justine Dodds, senior director of inter-professional practice with BCMHSUS. “No matter where you are in the province - from Surrey, to Campbell River, to Dawson Creek - and no matter what your occupation is: if you work with people with concurrent disorders there is something in the toolkit that will help you enhance your skills”.