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It’s Not About Us is a guide to improving the client experience with the mental health and addiction system across Canada. It examines the traditional and current pathology-oriented medical model, within which all of our services are built, and looks at how that model actually prevents the transformation we need. This book presents a new way to think about what it means to be client-centered, not only at an individual level, but also at the level of system-design and operation. It is based on compelling principles and a real success story – a program in Nova Scotia that transformed its approach to providing service, based on client-centered system design. That program significantly improved quickness and ease of access for clients, and also enhanced its capacity to prevent addictions and mental illness.

In Canada, many have tried to improve services. They have instinctively called for more money, therapists, and psychiatrists, or have focused on improving clinical skills of staff. Unfortunately, more of the same has repeatedly failed to address the concerns of the clients and the public, because it is not fundamental change. We need to replace our traditional model that is designed from an expert and management-focused viewpoint, and start to look at the system the way it is seen and experienced by clients and the public.

If you or a loved one have been affected by addiction and mental health issues, and have tried or wanted to advocate for a better system, this book will help you do that. If you work in the mental health and addiction system in Canada, this book will help guide you through a more fundamental change than we have seen in many decades.

It is time for change … and this is a call to action.