Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 510–514 | Cite as

A Novel Network for Mentoring Family Physicians on Mental Health Issues Using E-mail

  • Jon J. Hunter
  • Patricia Rockman
  • Nadine Gingrich
  • Jose Silveira
  • Lena Salach
Original Article



Family practitioners are significant providers of mental health care and routinely report difficulty acquiring timely support in this area. The Collaborative Mental Health Care Network assembled groups of family practitioners and provided them with mental health practitioner mentors. This article addresses communication in the Network, its effect on family practitioners, and the role e-mail plays.


This descriptive study utilizes two sources of data: a quality assurance survey administered to family practitioners in the Network and a sampling of e-mail correspondence between family practitioners and mental health and addiction mentors, examined qualitatively.


Family practitioners in the Network requested consultation on pharmacotherapy (53%), psychotherapy (34%), treatment review (27%), and diagnosis (24%). Satisfaction with the Network was high, with 88% of family practitioners reporting an improvement in ability to provide mental health care. E-mail analysis suggests that mentors convey information directly and indirectly and that a knowledge hierarchy, but not a power hierarchy develops. The trusted relationship between the mentee and mentor is an important context for effective education.


This model of mentoring is highly satisfactory to family practitioners and correlates with increased confidence in caring for patients with mental health issues. E-mail is a promising strategy for effective feedback and support between family practitioners and specialists.


Mental Health Academic Psychiatry Mental Health Issue Family Practitioner Tegretol 
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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jon J. Hunter
    • 1
  • Patricia Rockman
    • 2
  • Nadine Gingrich
    • 3
  • Jose Silveira
    • 1
  • Lena Salach
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of English Language and LiteratureUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  4. 4.Ontario College of Family PhysiciansTorontoCanada

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