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Building Integrated Capacity in Autism & Mental Health

Free Training Program for Autism and Mental Health Providers in Ontario!

Registration for the French-language cohort opens Winter 2023

About the Mental Health & Autism Training Program

Autistic children and youth who have co-occurring mental health challenges often struggle to access mental health treatments due to limited service provider capacity and siloed service delivery models. Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO), in partnership with Autism Ontario and Dr. Jonathan Weiss, has developed a bilingual training program to build both sectors’ capacity in delivering integrated mental health services for autistic children and youth. These virtual sessions are designed to help providers enhance their expertise in treating and supporting autistic children and youth who have mental health challenges and their families.

Meet our Partners

Autism Ontario

Autism Ontario

Autism Ontario is a charitable organization with a history of over 49 years representing the thousands of people on the autism spectrum and their families across Ontario. Made up of knowledgeable parents, professionals, and autistic self-advocates who can speak to the key issues that impact autistic individuals and their families, Autism Ontario is the province’s leading source of information and referral on autism, and one of the largest collective voices representing the autism community. The work we do helps all autistic individuals and families in their communities have access to meaningful support, information and connections so they are equitably and seamlessly supported across their life course. To learn more about Autism Ontario, please visit www.autismontario.com.

Dr. Jonathan Weiss

Dr. Jonathan Weiss

Dr. Jonathan Weiss, PhD, is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychology at York University (Toronto, Canada) and a Clinical Psychologist. He currently holds a York Research Chair in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disability Mental Health and was the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research.

His research focuses on mental health in people with autism or intellectual disabilities, and their families, across the lifespan. He conducts studies into how people with developmental disabilities access mental health care, and is interested in their service needs, use, and experiences of crisis and wellness.

He is interested in program development and evaluation, and on the impact of Special Olympics on the psychological well-being of participants, and of cognitive behavioral and mindfulness interventions to promote resilience and improve mental health. He has led pioneering work on Autism Mental Health Literacy, on the adaptation and delivery of psychotherapy to autistic youth, and on service provider training needs. He has published over 130 peer reviewed articles on mental health and developmental disabilities.

About the Training

Integrated Foundational Autism and Mental Health Training

Attendees will receive foundational knowledge about autism and mental health within an interprofessional education context. Participants will review core content regarding the broad spectrum of needs that are common for autistic youth; practical conceptualizations of mental health; up-to-date evidence about the causes of mental health problems for autistic youth; and psychosocial interventions to address symptoms. Case-based learning and speakers with lived experience will be included to make concepts concrete for participants, with a particular focus on the intersecting sociodemographic factors that can affect mental health. The regional focus will reinforce existing relationships between providers in both sectors and build new ones, setting the stage for increased collaboration by connecting to others who share similar foundational knowledge.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
• To improve participants’ understanding of professional roles; foster connection’s; and improve holistic autism mental health support planning and delivery.

STRUCTURE OF TRAINING
• Length of Training: 2–3-hour sessions.
• Program Delivery: Virtual. Training will also be recorded and accessible to participants.
• Language(s) of Instruction: English. Please note that a separate French version of the training will also be provided.
• Cost: There is no charge to you or your organization for this training as this project is funded by the Government of Ontario.

The full training curriculum is available here.
The full schedule for the foundational training is available here.

 

Specialized Advanced Training: Mental Health Providers
Provider-specific training involves dedicated and tailored training time for mental health professionals, centred on a more in-depth focus on how mental health problems present in autism; adaptations to service delivery that span multiple kinds of intervention; and communication strategies to improve interactions between provider and client. Case-based examples of the delivery of psychological interventions to autistic youth will be used to demonstrate adaptations.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
• Increased knowledge of how to adapt psychological interventions to be autism-informed.
• Increased awareness of how autistic mental health involves biopsychosocial considerations.
• Increased connections with other mental health providers within the region.

STRUCTURE OF TRAINING
• Length of Training: 2–3-hour sessions.
• Program Delivery: Virtual. Training will also be recorded and accessible to participants.
• Language(s) of Instruction: English. Please note that a separate French version of the training will also be provided.
• Cost: There is no charge to you or your organization for this training as this project is funded by the Government of Ontario.

The full training curriculum is available here.

Specialized Advanced Training: Autism Providers
This training will deliver autism mental health literacy training, focusing on how to first identify potential mental health concerns, including steps to take to provide mental health care first aid (e.g., being supportive of the client and family, identifying current informal and formal supports, looking for easy immediate steps that can help, etc.); learning about the mental health resources that exist (both informal and formal support sources), and identifying what they can do within their scope of practice to promote positive mental health in autistic clients.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
• Increased knowledge of mental health symptoms in autistic children and youth.
• Increased knowledge on steps providers can take to support the mental health of autistic people before and after the presentations of mental health symptoms.
• Increased knowledge of when to refer clients to other services for mental health concerns.

STRUCTURE OF TRAINING
• Length of Training: 2–3-hour sessions.
• Program Delivery: Virtual. Training will also be recorded and accessible to participants.
• Language(s) of Instruction: English. Please note that a separate French version of the training will also be provided.
• Cost: There is no charge to you or your organization for this training as this project is funded by the Government of Ontario.

The full training curriculum is available here.

About the Training Program & Sustainability Effort 

CMHO, in collaboration with Autism Ontario and Dr. Weiss, has developed a comprehensive training program for autism and mental health providers practicing in Ontario. The training will support professionals to enhance their expertise in treating and supporting autistic children and youth. Sustainability is a key focus for CMHO and our partners to ensure that both sectors’ knowledge and expertise are maintained. We expect to train approximately 5,000 mental health and autism providers in both the public and private sectors. This project is funded by the Government of Ontario.

Foundational Training Dates & Details
● The English foundational training will be offered regionally, based on the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services 5 regions (West, Central, Toronto, North, East), and will begin in Fall 2022.
● These virtual sessions will span two half-day training sessions, led by Dr. Jonathan Weiss.
● The full training curriculum is available here.
● The full schedule for the foundational training is available here.
Advanced Training Dates & Details
● The advanced English training will be offered regionally, based on the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services 5 regions (West, Central, Toronto, North, East), and will begin in Winter 2023.
● Registration will open in December 2022.
● These virtual sessions will span over two half-day training sessions, led by Dr. Jonathan Weiss.
● The full training curriculum is available here.
Continued Learning Opportunities

● We will launch regional communities of practice shortly after the advanced training with the support of Dr. Weiss until March 2024.
● The sessions will be held virtually for one-hour and will allow providers within each region to connect, learn about the services that are accessible to their clients, and continue to increase their knowledge based on the wisdom that is held within that community.
● After the completion of the project, the communities of practice will continue.
● In Fall 2023, we will host additional booster sessions based on the needs identified through our evaluation and communities of practice.

The Francophone Training Approach and Sustainability Efforts

• In Winter 2023, we will be providing the foundational and advanced training.
• Registration for the foundational training will open in Winter 2023.
• These virtual sessions will span two half-day training sessions, led by a francophone trainer with the support of Dr. Jonathan Weiss to a provincial francophone cohort.
• In September 2023, we will host additional booster sessions based on the needs identified through our evaluation and communities of practice.
• We will develop a provincial francophone community of practice, led by a francophone trainer who will participate in the community of practice with support from Dr. Weiss.
• After the completion of the project, the community of practice will continue.

Development of the Training Program

In 2021 and 2022, CMHO partnered with York University and Dr. Weiss to survey private and public mental health and autism providers. The survey results provided insight into four key areas:

● Attitudes
● Knowledge
● Confidence
● Training needs

Based on the survey results, CMHO worked with Autism Ontario and Dr. Weiss to develop a foundational and advanced training program that addresses the gaps and challenges mental health and autism service providers are experiencing. As part of the program, Dr. Weiss will provide trainees with the tools needed to combat the gaps in services that youth, children, and their families face daily, which will allow them to receive proper care and treatment.

PDF

Mental Health Providers Provincial Report

PDF

Rapport provincial des fournisseurs de services de santé mentale

PDF

Mental Health Providers Regional Report

PDF

Rapport régional des fournisseurs en santé mentale

A provincial and regional report for the autism providers survey results will be released in Spring 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions

REGISTRATION

How can I register?

You can register here. During the registration process, you will have the option to select the date and time you wish to attend the English foundational training. Registration for the advanced training and the French foundational and advanced training will open Fall 2022.

When is the deadline to register?

Registration will close 24 hours before each individual training session.

How do I know what region I am in?

The Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services (MCCSS) defines 5 regions of Ontario as follows: West, Central, Toronto, North, East. To help determine the region you are of click here.

ELIGIBILITY

Who is eligible to participate in the foundational training?

All mental health and autism service providers practicing in Ontario who deliver support and treatment to autistic children and youth can participate. Providers may be working within a context where autism
is a main focus of their service or within a context where it is not.

  • Mental health public and private providers in the community-based or hospital-based systems of care delivering services including but not limited to:

– Counselling and Therapy
– Live In Treatment
– Day Treatment
– In-home Services
– Specialized Services
– Brief and Crisis Services
– Parent Education

  • Autism public and private providers delivering services including but not limited to:

– Core Clinical Services
– Foundational Family Service
– 
Caregiver-Mediated Early Years Programs
– Entry to School Program
– Urgent Response Services
– Care Coordination

 

Who is eligible to participate in the advanced training?

Any of the mental health and autism providers that are eligible for the foundational training can also participate in the advanced training. You do not need to complete the foundational training to take the advanced training, though it is encouraged. Please refer to the list above.

I understand that this training is geared toward mental health and autism service providers. What resources are available to me as a family or caregiver with an autistic child/youth experiencing mental health challenges?

Families and caregivers play a significant role in providing support for autistic children and youth. This training is specifically designed to support mental health and autism professionals to help them better support autistic children/youth who also have mental health needs. Resources and learning designed for families and care givers can be accessed here.

TRAINING PROGRAM DETAILS (ENGLISH AND FRENCH)

How was the course material for this program developed?

To determine the training needs of autism and mental health professionals, Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) partnered with York University and Dr. Weiss to survey mental health and autism providers in 2021 and 2022 to assess public and private providers’ attitudes, knowledge, confidence, and training needs. The training program is informed by these surveys, which received input from 652 mental health providers and 448 autism providers stating that the vast majority of providers are interested in receiving more training. The most commonly endorsed topics of interest included mental health symptoms, how to adapt the services they already provide, and communication strategies to improve their delivery. There was a greater preference for online training compared to in-person training. Based on results from the survey, CMHO in partnership with Autism Ontario and Dr. Weiss developed a bilingual training program to build sector capacity in delivering integrated mental health services for autistic children and youth. These sessions are designed to help providers improve their expertise in treating and supporting autistic children and youth with co-occurring mental health challenges, along with their families.

The training sessions will include opportunities to hear from autistic young people and parents, discuss cases with peers, and learn about what different professionals can do to best support the mental health of autistic clients across the mental health and autism sectors. There are two main phases to the training: A foundational training provided to both autism and mental health providers at the same time (Phase 1), and more focused advanced training that is tailored to each sector’s clinical mandates (Phase 2).

How much does the training cost?

There is no charge to you or your organization for this training as this project is funded by the Government of Ontario.

Will the training sessions be conducted virtually or in-person?

All training sessions will be hosted virtually.

Will the training be interactive?

The training sessions will include breakout rooms where you will have the opportunity to have an engaged and collaborative discussion on the course curriculum with your peers and colleagues. You are also encouraged to ask questions.

What will I learn in the foundational training?

Attendees will be presented with foundational knowledge regarding autism and mental health within an interprofessional education context. Topics will include:
– Reviewing core content regarding the broad spectrum of common needs for autistic youth. Practical conceptualizations of mental health.
– Up-to-date evidence about the causes of mental health challenges for autistic youth and psychosocial interventions to address symptoms.
– Learn through case-based learning by hearing from speakers with lived experience focusing on the intersecting sociodemographic factors that can affect mental health.

The regional focus will also include a distribution of local autism and mental health agencies and professionals in attendance, setting the stage for increased collaboration by knowing others who share similar foundational knowledge.

To learn more, download the training curriculum here.

 

What will I learn in the advanced training as a mental health provider?
Provider-specific training involves dedicated and tailored training time for mental health professionals, centred on a more in-depth focus on how mental health problems present in autism; adaptations to service delivery that span multiple kinds of intervention; and communication strategies to improve interactions between provider and client. Case-based examples of the delivery of psychological interventions to autistic youth will be used to demonstrate adaptations.

To learn more, download the training curriculum here.

 

What will I learn in the advanced training as an autism provider?
This training will deliver autism mental health literacy training, focusing on how to first identify potential mental health concerns, including steps to take to provide mental health care first aid (e.g., being supportive of the client and family, identifying current informal and formal supports, looking for easy immediate steps that can help, etc.); learning about the mental health resources that exist (both informal and formal support sources), and identifying what they can do within their scope of practice to promote positive mental health in autistic clients.

To learn more, download the training curriculum here.

What will mental health providers most benefit from by taking the advanced training?

Mental health clinicians who intend to actively engage in treatment of autistic children and youth with co-occurring mental health challenges will gain a deep knowledge of psychotherapy techniques.

What will autism providers most benefit from by taking the advanced training?

Autism clinicians will learn how to identify mental health challenges in autistic children and youth and learn more about how to support these children and youth.

How will the foundational and advanced training be rolled out regionally?

The training will be offered regionally based on MCCSS’ 5 regions (West, Central, Toronto, North, East) and will be hosted over two half-day training sessions. Training launches Fall 2022 (English training) and Winter 2023 (French training).

What is your approach for francophone providers?

The project has developed a modified training plan for francophone providers across the province based on advice from francophone stakeholders. A francophone trainer will be working with Dr. Weiss to deliver the foundational and advanced training to a provincial francophone cohort. The foundational and specialized advanced training will launch in the Winter and Spring of 2023. We will develop a provincial francophone community of practice for autism and mental health service providers. The francophone trainer will participate in the community of practice with support from Dr. Weiss. In September 2023, there will be additional booster sessions provided based on the needs of francophone providers identified from the training evaluations and community of practice. After the completion of the project in March 2024, the community of practice will continue.  

What content will not be covered in the foundational and advanced training curriculum?

• The assessment, diagnosis and treatment of autism.
• Reviewing how families access services and support.
• OAP logistics including how to become eligible for the OAP services.

Do I have to complete the foundational training in order to participate in the advanced training?

While it is highly recommended, it is not required.

What approach are you taking to sustain learned knowledge and ensure this training supports my work?

Upon completing the foundational and/or advanced training, providers will be invited to attend regional communities of practice, which will be led by providers in each region and with agendas set by that community and focused on real world advice giving and problem solving. These 1-hour online meetings will allow providers within each region to connect, learn about the services that are accessible to their clients, and continue to increase their knowledge based on the wisdom that is held within that community. Dr. Weiss will support the communities of practice until the completion of the project in March 2024. To build upon the lessons and skills acquired in the training, in Fall 2023, CMHO, in partnership with Autism Ontario and Dr. Weiss, will host additional booster sessions based on the needs identified through our evaluation and communities of practice. After the completion of the project, the communities of practice will continue.

How can I obtain proof that I completed the foundational and advanced training?

Certificates will be emailed to those who complete the foundational and/or advanced training sessions.

Is this training eligible for continuing education credits?

Continuing education credits are available depending on the college you are a member of. For example, if you are a member of the Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO), College of Occupational Therapy of Ontario (OT), or Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, you can include this training as part of your continuing education credits as long as you put this training as part of your goal and you receive a certificate of completion.

How can I ensure that I have the best online learning experience possible?

We encourage you to find a quiet space where you will have no distractions so you can fully immerse yourself in the training curriculum. Think about what you will need in order to have the best training experience that will allow you to retain your learning; this can include having a tea or coffee, using noise cancelling headphones, placing your work status to “Do Not Disturb,” and/or having a notepad to write insights, key learnings, and questions. We also encourage you to use the chat function when in the training. If you’re comfortable, turn your camera on, ask questions throughout the training, and attend your community of practice to sustain your learnings and ask any additional questions.

CHANGING SESSION DATES/TIMES

What if I cannot attend the session dates available in my region?

While we highly encourage you to attend your region’s training sessions, we understand that it may not work with your schedule. You are free to select the training date and time that best meets your professional and personal schedules regardless of region. The full schedule for the foundational training is available here.

What happens if I miss my training date?

You can register for another session. Please note that registration will close 24 hours before each session start time.

If I have already enrolled in a session but would like to change my session to another date, how would I do that?

We understand as healthcare professionals, different work priorities may arise during your day. If you cannot attend the session you’ve already registered for, you can still register for an alternative session that works within your schedule. Please note that registration for each session will close 24 hours before the start time.

ACCESSING COURSE MATERIAL AND TRAINING TEAM

Will the training materials presented during the training sessions be available afterward?

Yes! All materials presented will be available including a recording of the training sessions. Please note the training recording may not be the specific session you attended. These resources will be emailed to you after you complete both training sessions for the foundational and advanced training.

Can I copy and edit the course materials and use them to train and develop other healthcare professionals?

No! CMHO has copyrights to all of the materials provided during the training sessions now and in the future. If you are interested in partnering on an initiative in the future, please contact training@cmho.org.

 

How can I contact the training team if I have questions or concerns before or after the training?

You can contact the training team via email at training@cmho.org.

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