2023 Annual Report
An introductory message from AnnMarie Churchill, President and Lead Executive Officer
On behalf of the Stepped Care Solutions team, I’m excited and proud to share our 2023 annual report. We included a selection of highlights, milestones, and important accomplishments achieved this year – a year in which we built upon our strong foundation and with our valued partners, worked together to advance our vision of wellbeing everywhere. As always, our principles ground our interactions with each other, our partners and clients, and the world. Truly, we are better together – the theme of this year’s annual report.
As you read through this report, you’ll see better together woven throughout our initiatives and accomplishments, from how we collaborate to guide mental health system transformation – to growing our partnerships to help build community capacity and improve population mental health. “Better together” is also one of our core organizational values that we strive to embody every day in our work – appreciating individual strengths and contributions and recognizing the necessity of diverse perspectives for innovative ideas and effective solutions.
We are honoured to do what we do and we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with a broad and diverse range of communities, sectors, and organizations – in Canada, the United States, and beyond. all working to support mental health and improve service delivery. As we reflect back on this past year and look forward to next year, we are energized by our achievements and motivated by our collective dedication to the vision of wellbeing everywhere.
Thank you to the SCS team, our Board of Directors, and our partners and collaborators. Their commitment, expertise, and passion. For mental health.made possible our accomplishments over the past year. Together, we are advancing a worldwide movement where mental health is universally accepted as part of health and wellbeing, with stigma-free open access for all.
I hope this year’s annual report provides inspiration and hope as we continue our mission into the new year.
Last year we created a 5-year strategic plan listing five priorities that serve as guideposts to help us measure our progress and advance our mission. Like last year’s, this year’s annual report is aligned to these priorities, which are highlighted below.
Live our principles
Foster a culture where our SC2.0 principles are embedded in everything we do and how we interact and engage with others.
Expand reach and impact of the SC2.0 model
Grow our partnerships and relationships with organisations and communities to broaden our impact on population mental health and health systems around the world.
Reframe the current mental health narrative
Promote a narrative that advances a restorative approach to healing, is rooted in evidence and asserts the transformative value of the SC2.0 principles and model.
Empower organisations and communities to lead mental health system transformation
Work collaboratively with service providers, health system leaders and innovators, and the individuals and communities they serve, to co-design responsive, coordinated, and sustainable mental health, substance use health, and addiction systems.
Live our principles
Our principles are our values – and they guide how we work and what makes our approach unique. Our principles serve as a guide post for doing our important work – whether we are co-developing solutions, making decisions, navigating difficult situations, setting policies, or simply interacting with others.
Building our team capacity in the theory and practice of synergy
We have prioritized the development and application of our unique approach to advancing social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion: what we refer to as synergy. Synergy underlies our principles, acknowledging the value in the uniqueness and interconnectedness of all human beings. In our context of mental health system transformation, synergy is leveraged to address impacts of colonialism, racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression that can be inherent in systems, and to find restorative solutions. To learn more about synergy in the context of SCS and SC2.0, check out this YouTube video.
It is an organizational priority to build our team’s capacity in the theory and practice of synergy. This enables us to apply the system transformation we seek to achieve; becoming a transformative organization in the process of our work.
SCS is intentional in our workforce development. A key way we built our synergy capacity and organizational culture is through regular Synergy Think Space sessions, which were held 3-4 times per month. Synergy Think Space sessions were open to all staff and provided an opportunity for shared learning about the theory and practice of synergy. These sessions were designed to facilitate incorporation of synergy pillars into our day to day work both within our teams and with our partners and clients. Staff across teams regularly participated in these voluntary sessions.
Post session, one-word key takeaways from the past year included: →
Applying our principles in practice
The SC2.0 principles are foundational in our efforts to transform mental health systems. The application of these significant and unique principles is prioritized in our work with partners, collaborators, and clients.
To ground our work in the SC2.0 principles, we developed SCS Implementation Consulting Core Competencies. These core competencies reflect our strengths-based approach, and are grounded in synergy, reflexivity, and co-design that highlight the capacity, skills, wisdom, and experiences of our partners.
For example, one of the SCS Implementation Consulting Core Competencies is:
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts: The strength of the system relies on multilevel collaboration.
We develop strong partnerships through collaboration, working synergistically across different organizations, providers, and sectors, as well as with community partners and others working to improve the mental health and substance use health system.
Expand reach and impact of SC2.0 methodology
We are expanding our partnerships across a broad and diverse range of communities, sectors, and organizations, in Canada, the United States and beyond, to bolster our impact among a wider audience.
Broadening our partnerships
We have expanded the reach and impact of our services this past year by collaborating with international, national, provincial/territorial, regional, and community-based organizations and institutions across many jurisdictions. Key highlights include:
- Partnering with six provincial and territorial governments to support the transformation of their mental health, substance use health and addiction systems
- Collaborating with community-based organizations, including integrated youth services and hubs in multiple jurisdictions across Canada.
- Partnering with nine colleges and universities -across Canada and internationally in Chile, Mexico, and the United States.
Highlight in practice: Stepped Care 2.0 in the Northwest Territories
In March 2020, the Government of the Northwest Territories partnered with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and Stepped Care Solutions to implement SC2.0, with the goal of increasing access to mental health and wellness services.
Through a combination of training, community engagement, and service development and improvements, SC2.0 has helped transform the way mental health and wellness services are delivered to better meet the needs of Northwest Territories residents.
Key outcomes include:
- Reduction in wait times for mental wellness services by 79% between 2020 and 2022, and long intake processes and precursors to care have been removed.
- 72% of service users surveyed were satisfied with wait times for counselling as a result of SC2.0 implementation.
- 81% of Indigenous service users surveyed were satisfied with the safety of the counselling environment.
- 78% of service users surveyed were satisfied with their involvement in decisions about their care.
- 73% of service users surveyed were satisfied with their overall counselling experience.
- 69% of service users surveyed were satisfied with overall life changes following counselling.
To learn more about this initiative, you can read the full report by clicking here.
Continued leadership of Wellness Together Canada
Stepped Care Solutions is the lead administrative partner of Wellness Together Canada, a national mental health and substance use portal funded by Health Canada, in partnership with Homewood Health and Kids Help Phone. Wellness Together Canada is grounded in SC2.0 and has been designed to create open access to responsive services with a range of supports along a continuum. Since its inception in April 2020, Wellness Together Canada there have been more than 3.3 million unique visits to the platform from across the country, with high rates of satisfaction amongst users.
This year, Wellness Together Canada was featured in the Bell Let’s Talk campaign. You can view the video clip to see how we shared the message about WTC with people in Canada to increase awareness and access to care.
Establishing relationships with international organizations to impact population health and equity
We have also continued to advance dialogue and capacity building grounded in SC2.0 with mental health leaders across the world, with representation from Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and beyond.
A key example of this in action is our partnerships with the College of Behavioral Health Leadership and the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership. Through these collaborations, Stepped Care Solutions has led the delivery of webinars and focused roundtable discussions on system transformation through the application of SC2.0. There has been a focus on re-thinking the mental health workforce – from frontline staff, supervisors and leadership levels, as well as peer workers and informal supports, such as community members and caregivers.
These webinars and roundtables have offered our team an exciting opportunity to reach a broad and significant audience, disrupt leaders’ thinking about system transformation, and explore new and innovative avenues to apply SC2.0 to address complex challenges.
Reframe the current mental health narrative
Our mission requires us to reach a wider audience and to be flexible and innovative in how we change the narrative to destigmatize mental health and substance use health, bringing diverse groups along in this movement.
Knowledge exchange and thought leadership
Generating and disseminating information on the SC2.0 model and our transformative approach to mental health system transformation is essential to advancing the SCS mission and vision. Knowledge exchange and thought leadership on a global scale has enabled us to reach an ever-expanding number of leaders, providers, and communities.
This year, we launched a new webinar series – Diplomatic Disruption.
This series provides a forum for changing the narrative on mental health and mental health systems. Each webinar presents a different perspective on diplomatic disruption and facilitates meaningful discussion amongst system leaders, service providers and people with lived and living experience. Amongst the hundreds of registrants of this year’s webinars, feedback was very positive, with almost 90% agreeing that the webinars were useful.
We also continued to host the “So, why?” Podcast that explore issues and challenges as well as ideas and solutions to strengthen support for mental wellness and recovery. This year, we released five new episodes covering a range of different topics, including peer support along a SC2.0 continuum, substance use health, co-design, and recovery-oriented practice, with a range of guests from Stepped Care Solutions, as well as several of our valued partners.
Evaluation and research
Contributing to academic research is a key mechanism to generating and disseminating evidence of the impact of SC2.0, as well as creating opportunities for further development and continuous improvement. Members of our team co-authored a number of manuscripts focused on the implementation of stepped care models of mental health and substance use services in several different journals.
Empower organizations and communities to lead mental health system transformation
To best support our partners, we believe it is critical to empower them to lead transformation within their communities. By providing consultation and guidance to organizations and developing supporting tools and resources, we build capacity for others’ to effectively implement and sustain SC2.0 within their contexts.
Developing a robust support framework
We have strengthened and refined our internal capacities and structures to enhance and expand our consultation processes, tools, and resources – beginning with building organizational and community readiness for the implementation of SC2.0 through to ongoing implementation, improvement and sustainability. Examples of these efforts are highlighted below.
This year we developed our SC2.0 Theory of Change and Evaluation Framework. These are foundational assets which support us and our partners in building consensus around the model, communicating intended outcomes, and contributing to planning, managing, and scaling implementation of SC2.0.
We also built out our co-design and engagement supports, especially through enhancements to, and expansion of, our Populating the Model workshop series
SC2.0 evaluation framework.
These workshops are designed to be flexible to meet the diverse needs of the community or organization. During the workshops, SCS facilitators support clients to engage with individuals in their communities and across their systems.
In addition to the practical significance of ”populating their model” in implementing SC2.0, these sessions facilitate co-design processes and community engagement that build awareness, community capacity and system improvements.
Build a strong, nimble infrastructure
Our organizational structure, processes, and practices reflect our principles, facilitate a culture of curiosity and innovation and enable us to be adaptive and collaborative. We move forward towards our goals by being open to uncertainty, taking calculated risks, and with a growth mindset.
Growing our Board of Directors
Our Board of Directors stewards Stepped Care Solutions by advancing strategy, growth, and business development, advising on governance and operations, providing oversight to the organization, and championing our mandate; ultimately, enabling us to realize our vision and mission.
The expansion of Board membership was a paramount objective of the past year. We strive to include a comprehensive blend of capacity, skills, and expertise essential for the effective discharge of SCS Director responsibilities. To accomplish this we undertook a rigorous search and selection process to identify and recruit new members. We are pleased and honoured to welcome four distinguished individuals to our Board of Directors. Their profound experience and proficiency in a range of areas that include change management, business development, human resources, and health law will greatly enrich our Board.
Expanding our team
This year, we recruited and onboarded new staff and contractors, significantly increasing the size of our SCS team to close to 90 members. These new roles are spread across different levels, including management and leadership positions, augmenting teams and portfolios spanning the entire organization. This expansion will support our mission to transform mental health systems towards our vision – Wellbeing Everywhere – by sustaining current work and exploring new partnerships and opportunities. Further, our new team members have been critical to the development and implementation of new and improved organizational processes, policies, and structures – particularly in the areas of finance, marketing and communications, operations and human resources.
We have prioritized recruiting and retaining highly skilled and qualified individuals who are deeply committed to the SCS mission and vision. Our expanded team reflects our belief in the unique contributions that people from diverse backgrounds and identities can bring to our work: truly making us better together.
Thank you to the SCS team, our Board of Directors, and our partners and collaborators – we are better together. As we continue to advance our vision of Wellbeing Everywhere, it is a privilege to reflect on all that we have accomplished in the past year.