Summer 2016

Mentoring Networks Help Docs Address Complex Care

For 15 years, the OCFP’s Collaborative Mentoring Networks have linked family physicians with specialists mentors who provide timely advice on how  assess and treat patients with mental illness, addictions and chronic pain. The Networks include the Collaborative Mental Health Network (CMHN) and the Medical Mentoring for Addictions and Pain Network (MMAP).

In June 2016, the OCFP hosted a Networks meeting in Windsor, Ont., (one in a series of meetings across Ontario) and welcomed approximately 40 physicians from the area to discuss caring for patients with complex mental illness, addictions and pain issues.

“We have consistently heard from family physicians across Ontario of the significant challenges they face in trying to navigate the complexity in managing patients with mental illness, addictions and chronic pain. The mentoring networks are able to help family doctors navigate this complexity through mentoring opportunities and regional regional meetings like the one in Windsor,” said Dr. Arun Radhakrishnan, a family physician in Ottawa and MMAP and CMHN co-chair.

The day-long session took a case-based approach to examine how to:

  • Better identify key diagnostic considerations and behavioural and pharmacological management of pediatric ADHD.
  • Manage the use of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain and identify non-opioid pharmacologic management options.
  • Better identify opioid use disorders in a family practice setting.
  • Learn about simple non-pharmacological pain management options such as psychological treatments like motivational interviewing that can be used in a family practice.
  • Identify community leaders and resources for mental health, pain and addiction that will support the decision making in your practice.
  • Consider the current evidence, indications, risks and benefits related to the use of cannabinoids for chronic non-cancer pain in general and for the specific case.

The case focused on Ashleigh, a 32-year-old woman and her 10-year-old son, Michael who has behavioural issues at home and school. Ashleigh is on disability through WSIB and has chronic pain that is not well controlled by her current opioid regime. She is interested in trying medical marijuana to see if it would help. She has reported losing her opioids three times in the past year and denies any issues with substance abuse issues, but she struggled with cocaine use in the past. 

Each workshop session discussed a different aspect of Ashleigh’s case. Discussions included a lively debate on cannabinoids use, as well as presentations on substance use disorders, management of chronic non-cancer pain and ADHD.  To wrap of the day’s discussions, MMAP and CMHN co-chair Dr. Arun Radhakrishnan presented clinical pearls relating to how to improve the assessment and management of substance abuse disorders, non-opioid management of non-cancer pain, and the diagnosis and management of ADHD.

Physicians were also able to learn about local community services at the exhibits that were presented the AIDS Committee of Windsor, Brentwood Recovery Home, CHMA Windsor and VON Windsor-Essex.

"Regional meetings like this one have a demonstrated benefit, with attendees reporting that they feel more confident and knowledgeable in the use of non-opioid options for chronic pain, identifying opioid use disorders and managing pediatric ADHD after attending the conference,” said Dr. Radhakrishnan.

Special thanks to the Windsor Regional Planning Committee: Dr. David Murphy, Dr. Arun Radhakrishnan, Ms. Gaby Rojo and the Windsor-Essex LHIN, without whom the event would not have been possible.

To learn more about this meeting or the activities of the CMHN or MMAP, please email the Networks coordinator at or call 416-867-9646 x16.

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