Introducing Dr. Ian Dawe, Program Chief of Mental Health

Forging Partnerships for Greater Care

Dr. Ian Dawe, Chief, Mental Health, Trillium Health Partners
Dr. Ian Dawe, Chief, Mental Health, Trillium Health Partners

Dr. Dawe is Program Chief and Medical Director of Mental Health at Trillium Health Partners. He is a medical doctor and psychiatrist, and is “genuinely thrilled to be here” because of our CEO Michelle DiEmanuele and Chief of Staff Dr. Dante Morra, both of whom had caught his attention for their leadership—“they didn’t just speak the language of renewal—they actioned it.”

Partnering for Greater Patient Care
Active patient involvement is essential to patient-centred care for Dr. Dawe. “Patients and families are the experts—they have living expertise. We have training and compassion. When we collaborate with patients and each other, we create real change.”

He is a strong believer in meaningful partnerships that benefit patients, including aligned mental health care. “We are all of us—physicians and patients—so much better when we work together,” he says.

“In both my patient care and administrative duties, I have endeavoured to empower patients and their families to be actively part of the process, to make better decisions—this enhances their care,” he continues.

A Natural Innovator
Dr. Dawe is an expert in suicide prevention. As a Fellow with the University of Toronto’s Arthur Sommer Rotenberg Chair, Dr. Dawe worked with many partners to advocate for the Luminous Veil, the barrier that now successfully prevents suicides at the Bloor Street Viaduct. “Getting people to pause and reconsider their decision, frequently results in changed minds.”

As Chair of the Ontario Hospital’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention Standards, Dr. Dawe leads a group of provincial experts, including many with living expertise, to bring effective standards to all of Ontario’s hospitals in the area of suicide prevention.

Dr. Dawe envisions a zero-percent suicide plan for Ontario. “The suicide rate hasn’t changed in 15 years—that’s because we haven’t decided to change it together. Like any quality improvement project, you first need a target.”

Emergency Mental Health Care Innovations
Dr. Dawe also led the Mental Health and Addiction Emergency Department Alliance—a multi-hospital partnership like the MPA—where he introduced several innovations, including creating respite beds in a special zone so that mental health patients could be transferred to a peaceful place for up to 72 hours outside Emergency and without hospital admission.

He plans to reduce the staggering patient volume at our ED by partnering with the school boards to discover kids’ health issues before they become emergencies. He also plans to reduce seniors’ mental health visits.

For St. Michael’s Hospital, he established the Mobile Crisis Intervention Team, a partnership with Toronto Police Service’s 51 Division in which doctors—including himself—rode in police cruisers to visit emergency mental health sufferers.

“My leadership style is based on people-based professionalism,” says Dr. Dawe. “I believe in strong teams, and I believe that we can work together to be a national leader in mental health care.”

>> Trillium Health Partners is changing the ways that mental health care is delivered in our community. Please consider an online gift in support of mental health care today.