Collaborative Insights: Advancing Substance Use Health and Mental Health Initiatives

Given the intersections of substance use health (SUH) and mental health (MH), a cohesive approach is often beneficial for people living in Canada who are looking for support.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) was established by an act of Parliament in 1988 to provide national leadership and evidence-informed analysis and advice to reduce the harms of substance use in Canada. The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) was established in 2007 and leads the development and dissemination of innovative programs and tools to support the mental health and wellness of Canadians.

As such, CCSA and MHCC have collaborated on several projects to better understand the state of the evidence about and best practices for SUHMH and concurrent concerns. This includes a systematic review of emerging academic literature related to SUHMH service provision, a grey literature review of implementation and guidelines for operations of integrated SUHMH services, and a research study highlighting the experience and expertise of people with lived or living experience of integrated SUHMH services in Canada. Our organizations have also worked together with a specific focus on cannabis. Findings from a knowledge summit about the potential benefits, harms and risks cannabis poses to SUHMH have also been developed.

This webpage provides the collection of these projects. Learn more about each one below.

Executive Summary: Integrated Mental Health And Substance Use And Concurrent Disorder Service Delivery

Summarizes a report that identifies and analyzes implementation and operational guidelines for integrated SUHMH and concurrent disorder service delivery in Canada, the United States, Europe and Commonwealth countries between 2017 and 2022. The findings reveal that integrated guidelines have increased during the past five years. Most available guidelines have a particular context or population-specific approach rather than a systems-wide approach. Gaps in guideline development suggest opportunities for research and knowledge sharing, particularly best practices, standards of care, planning and management, outcome evaluation, and understanding the impact of care integration in intersectional contexts.

Please email Nina Salazar at if you would like to request a copy of the full report.

Summary Report: Experience and Expertise of People with Lived and Living Experience on the Integration of Mental Health and Substance Use Health Services in Canada

Integrated services for SUHMH have been studied for more than two decades. Yet no recent or comprehensive reviews exist that focuses on peer research methodology and how people who use these services experience integration. To address this need, we commissioned the Community Addictions Peer Support Association (CAPSA) to explore the experiences, expertise and guidance on integrated SUHMH services from the perspective of people with lived or living experience. The summary report provides policy and practice recommendations for improving integrated SUHMH service delivery, matching needs to services and developing systemic incentives.

Toward Substance Use Health and Mental Health Service Integration: Findings from a Scoping Review

We identified a need to take stock of broader trends in the emerging academic literature published between 2018 and 2021 related to SUHMH service provision. This summary focuses on emerging research on integrated SUHMH services. It includes key barriers and facilitators for integration, system organizing principles that support integration and key findings from the literature review.

Please email if you would like to request a copy of the full report.

Cannabis, Mental Health and Substance Use Health Summary Report

We cohosted a Cannabis, Mental Health and Substance Use Health Research Knowledge Exchange Event in March 2023. With funding from Health Canada, our two organizations supported about 70 research teams who explored the potential benefits, harms and risks cannabis poses to SUHMH. The three-day event brought together the research teams to share their project results, observations and experiences. Topics included the effects of legalization on perceptions and patterns of cannabis use, the impacts of legalization on MH and wellness, the lived experiences of equity-deserving populations and more. This report summarizes the findings and themes discussed at the event, and includes recommendations for future research, policy and practice.

Please email if you would like to request a copy of the full report.

Intersections of Substance Use and Suicide: Evidence and Key Take-Aways

Looks at how specific patterns of substance use may increase suicide risk. Highlights intersecting factors, such as the type of substance and the amount consumed, as well as biological and social influences. Notes that some groups, such as men and older adults, may be at a higher risk due to overlapping health and social inequities, including trauma, co-occurring disorders, stigma and difficulty accessing health care. Offers prevention and intervention approaches that could improve services and support, and suggests areas for further research.

Our Shared Future: Priorities for Cannabis Research: Cannabis Networking Event Summary Report 2024

Summarizes a networking and planning workshop held November 2023 with members of research teams who received Health Canada funding through the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and the Mental Health Commission of Canada to study the impact and effectiveness of cannabis policies, regulations and programs. Participants discussed what gaps remain in research that could be the focus of future work.

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