Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Top of Mind for CBT Skills Curriculum

Building on seven years of success in leveraging cognitive behavioural therapy skills to improve the wellness of physicians and patients alike, CBT Skills Group Society is determined to reduce the barriers to access to their program. Following a funding approval from the Shared Care Committee for an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) component, and an approved expression of interest (EOI) for Indigenizing their curriculum, CBT Skills is set on making their programs as accessible and inclusive as possible.

The ongoing mental health crisis in BC is indiscriminate—it can affect any one of us at any time. And with a fifth of the province not having access to a family doctor, many British Columbians are having trouble getting the help they need. CBT Skills Group Society is aiming to help service that gap.

In July 2022, they successfully requested additional funds to develop an EDI curriculum for physician facilitators and patient participants. In partnership with the Vancouver Division of Family Practice, the Society began training physicians and facilitators on existing EDI resources. Now, with the newly approved funding, they are hoping to create course material that allows CBT Skills to uphold their value of promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in the program. The content will include materials for both group facilitators (family physicians and specialists) and group participants (patients).

“Our approach is to incorporate EDI into all aspects of the CBT skills curriculum,” explains Erin Ryding, who is the project lead for the CBT Skills EDI curriculum development. “Based on participant feedback, we focused on illuminating gender and socio-economic inclusivity, anti-ableism, and cultural safety.”

In September, the CBT Skills Group team presented an expression of interest to the Shared Care Committee for a new Indigenous component to the program. The committee approved the EOI and the team will work to determine the feasibility of an affordable, accessible, and culturally safe Indigenous program.

CBT Skills training began in 2015 as a resource for physicians to meet in groups and train in CBT-based skills. In partnership with the CBT Skills Groups Society, the project aims to facilitate CBT Skills Groups to patients across BC, continue training family physicians across the province to become facilitators, and provide linkages within Divisions of Family Practice and Health Authority PCNs to support the continuum of care for mental health patients.

Fiona Petigara, a Vancouver-based family physician and CBT-trained facilitator, appreciates how her training and the mentorship she’s received from her psychiatry colleagues has improved her capacity to manage mental health conditions within her clinic.

“As a family physician teaching mental health skills, I value the implicit message to patients that mental health is an integral part of overall health and a vital part of primary care,” she explains. “As a facilitator, I deeply value the rich teachings and the opportunity to have time and space, outside of my busy clinic setting, to educate and coach effective mental health strategies.”
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