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Project ECHO Ontario

Child and Youth Mental Health

Project ECHO® Ontario – Child and Youth Mental Health is a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care(MOHLTC) Ontario-funded initiative, based at CHEO, to improve mental health care in rural and underserved communities across Ontario. It will develop the capacity and skills of primary care providers through technology-enabled collaborative learning.

Many Ontarian children and youth live in remote or otherwise underserved communities, including more than 100 First Nations. Eighteen percent of Ontarians live in rural areas, where only 2% of the province’s child psychiatrists live. Unfortunately, children and youth in rural and underserved areas are disproportionately affected by mental health problems and substance use.

Through Project ECHO® Ontario’s knowledge-sharing networks, children and youth will get services from primary care providers in their communities whom they know and who are familiar with their cultures and languages.

Using a hub and spoke model, Project ECHO®’s hub specialists will share knowledge and skills with primary care providers using case-based learning through TeleECHO virtual clinic sessions and individual mentoring. Participants in ECHO® Ontario will receive free Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits.

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The ECHO® model stands for Extension for Community Health Outcomes and was originally created in New Mexico to improve treatment of hepatitis C in rural areas. It’s since been used for other conditions from HIV to adult mental health and addictions.

Project ECHO® supports CHEO’s 5-year mental health strategy to improve access, reduce wait times, and create a strong system of mental health services for children, youth and families. CHEO is working with community partners to improve the mental health system as a whole, engage children, youth and families in their own care, and use technology to improve clinical care.

Meet the team:

  • Co-directors of Project ECHO®: Dr. Kathleen Pajer & Dr. William Gardner
  • Manager : Josée Blackburn
  • Training and Development Specialist : Veronica Hoch
  • Administrative Assistant: Roxanne MacKay
  • IT Support/ZOOM Champion: Dale Hammond

The hub specialists include:

  • Psychiatrist: Dr. Kathleen Pajer
  • System Navigator(s): Cindy Dawson & Ghyslaine Paquette
  • Psychologist: Dr. Simone Kortstee

The team is working on putting together the curriculum for the TeleECHO clinic sessions and would like your input on what topics are of interest to you. You can submit your suggestions here.

For more information, or to find out about participating in Project ECHO® Ontario – Child and Youth Mental Health as a learning partner, please contact:

Manager: Josée Blackburn, M.S.W., RSW |
613-737-7600 ext. 3399

Learn more about Project ECHO® Ontario:


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