TeleLink Mental Health
TeleLink is a program that provides a virtual mental health consultation service for children and youth in partnership with their caregivers. We connect children/youth, caregivers, and care teams to mental health specialists using virtual technology so they don’t have to leave their community.
Patient care is individualized to meet the needs of the child or youth and can include teachers, case managers, doctors, nurse practitioners and others as determined by the referral team. We also provide agencies with program consultations or education sessions on a variety of topics aimed at building capacity and increasing knowledge.
Areas of expertise
The TeleLink team, within the Division of Child Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, is comprised of child psychiatrists, social workers, nurse practitioners, psychologists and administrative staff. They provide a range of expertise on topics such as:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Disruptive Behaviour Disorders
- Mood and Anxiety Disorders
- Learning difficulties
- Attachment Disorders
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
- Psychosis/thought Disorders
- Eating Disorders
Main services offered
- Direct clinical consultations for children/youth under 18 years old
- Program consultations for agencies aimed at capacity building
- Education sessions/series for agencies on a variety of topics
- Services offered in both English and French
- Partnerships with Indigenous liaisons to provide culturally sensitive service
- Interpretation services (free of charge) in any language
- No fee for service; must be a resident of Ontario
More TeleLink services
TeleLink also supports remote areas outside of Ontario, including Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Team members are licensed to offer care in these other areas of Canada, to ensure that mental health services are available to these remote communities. The partnerships provide the same services to these territories through a common referral pathway.
Telepsychology (virtual psychological services) are also offered by the TeleLink program to rural children’s mental health centres. The Telepsychology program works closely with psychometrists from a variety of remote regions to ensure reliable test administration, quality of service, clinical consultation, supervision and capacity building to under-served populations.
Our main referral pathway via the Tele-mental Health Service (TMHS) is funded by the Ministry of Health and offered free of charge to Ontario residents under the age of 18.
Sickkids collaborates with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the Child and Parent Resource Institute (CPRI) to provide consultations to rural, remote or underserviced areas with expert mental health supports.
Who can refer?
Referrals via the Tele-mental Health Service (TMHS) pathway can come from:
- Child and youth mental health agencies
- School boards
- Hospital outpatient programs
- Family health teams
- Aboriginal health access centres
- Friendship centres
- Youth justice settings
- Other community-based agencies that provide child and youth mental health services in Ontario
How can you refer?
The TMHS has partnerships with coordinating agencies across Ontario that help to support youth and their families access resources within their own communities. These coordinating agencies also help families connect with specialist services like ours when needed. Referrals should be directed to the coordinating agency dedicated to your service area.
Three service agencies are dedicated to the general population (see map below):
- HANDS Child and Youth Mental Health - The Family Help Network
- Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services
- Algoma Family Services
Three overlapping agencies are dedicated to First Nation, Metis, Inuit and urban Aboriginal populations (see map below):
- Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Service
- Dilico Anishinabek Family Care
- Weechi-it-te-win Family Services
For agencies referring within Toronto/GTA (Urban), please direct referrals to:
Please direct general population referrals to the Coordinating Agency servicing your community.
Map of service area 1: Northeastern Ontario; service area 2: Southwestern Ontario; and service area 3: Northwestern Ontario.
Please direct First Nations, Inuit, Metis and urban Aboriginal population referrals to the Coordinating Agency servicing your community.
Map of First Nations service area 4: Southwestern Ontario; service area 5: West Ontario; and service area 6: Northwestern Ontario.
Clinical consultation is when one of our mental health professionals provide a mental health assessment with children or youth, their caregivers and their mental health team. We highly recommend inclusion of case workers/managers, or the primary care team be present during the consult to ensure that recommendations can be implemented and followed. Referrals are triaged by presenting issue and urgency and matched to compatible consultants. For non-urgent referrals, the average time from referral to initial consultation is approximately two to four weeks. However, urgent consultations are expedited within 72 hours.
Program Consultation is a capacity building platform for community agencies to allow them access to expert mental health providers to consult on clinically relevant cases and topics. A consultant meets monthly with a designated group of mental health providers to discuss clinical, program-wide and community issues. Topics discussed may include individual youth and their emotions and behaviours, diagnosis, formulation and management. Consultants offer education, support, and guidance when working with very difficult or complex situations. Every program consultation is tailored to the specific need of the program and local community.
Education sessions can cover a wide range of clinical topics and can be delivered as a one-time session or presented as an education series. Sessions are geared to the needs of the requesting agency and can be either an introductory or advanced level to meet the needs of the diversity of practitioners at community agencies. Utilizing virtual platforms allows us to provide education to a wide audience without the added travel costs; any of our mental health providers can deliver education and training.
To request an education session, please complete a request form.
Consent for Release of Information
Consent is required for a report to be sent to any referral sources. The form should be signed by the patient (if deemed capable) for the release of their health information.
TMHS Referral Forms (English)
- TeleMental Health Referral Form - PDF
- TeleMental Health Follow Up/Second Opinion Request Form - PDF
- TeleMental Health Consent to Disclosure Form - PDF
- TeleMental Health Youth Information Sheet - PDF
- Youth Justice Consent to Disclosure Form - PDF
TMHS Referral Forms (French)
Please note that written recommendations will be provided in English.
- Formulaire de référence - PDF
- Formulaire de suivi et demande d’un deuxième avis - PDF
- Formulaire de consentement à la divulgation de renseignements personnels sur la santé - PDF
- Informations sur la rencontre par vidéoconférence - PDF
- Justice Pénale pour les Adolescents formulaire de consentement à la divulgation de renseignements personnels sur la santé - PDF
Alternative referral pathway
A direct referral from a primary care provider (Physician or Nurse Practitioner) to the TeleLink program will be accepted by our service. This pathway requires a valid Ontario health card number be provided for service.
TeleLink Referral Forms (English)
- TeleLink Referral Form - PDF
- TeleLink Follow up/Second opinion request form - PDF
- TeleLink Consent to Disclosure of personal health information form - PDF
- TeleLink Youth Information Sheet
TeleLink Referral Forms (French)
The mental health team at TeleLink strives to provide excellence in our service. The administrative team works closely with community partners to ensure timely action for all referrals. We strive to have an appointment offered with 48 hours and work to meet the needs of the patients, caregivers and agencies that we partner with to provide seamless virtual mental health care.
TeleLink is committed to matching community needs with best evidence and excellence in care through partnership and evaluation to build capacity in our community agencies and foster meaningful collaborations with stakeholders. We strive to acknowledge cultural diversity and are inclusive of all who need our services.
A teaching hospital
Operated under the auspices of The Hospital for Sick Children, TeleLink is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, as a program with the Division of Child and Youth Mental Health in the Department of Psychiatry.
Dr. Antonio Pignatiello, MD, FRCPC
Dr. Pignatiello has been the Medical Director of TMHS since 2004. He is a generalist child and adolescent psychiatrist who has worked in a variety of academic and community-based settings, including private practice, children’s mental health agencies, schools, child protection services, hospitals, and youth justice. He enjoys teaching and mentoring medical trainees.
Expand the section below for our TeleLink team list, including short biographies.
Susan Komhyr Smith, RN, MHM, - Clinical Manager
Dr. Peter Braunberger, MD, FRCPC - Tele-mental Health Liaison for Rural & Remote Communities
- Dr. Peter Braunberger is a generalist child & adolescent psychiatrist based in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario. As SickKids' Tele-mental Health Liaison for Rural & Remote Communities, Braunberger has advocated for models of care that more effectively meet the needs of rural & remote and Indigenous children of northern Ontario. After a valuable rotation as a resident, Braunberger then joined the SickKids Tele-mental Health Team in 2007 and continues to support telepsychiatry as a very important resource for northern children and families and communities.
Dr. Chetana Kulkarni, MD, FRCPC - Education Lead
- Dr. Chetana Kulkarni is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with experience providing care to infants, children, youth and their families. She is currently the Education Lead for the TeleLink Mental Health Program and Medical Director of the Mental Health Access Program (MHAP) at SickKids.
Dr. Jennifer Felsher, PhD, C. Psych – Telepsychology Program Coordinator
- Dr. Jennifer Felsher is the coordinator of the Telepsychology Program for the TeleLink Mental Health. Felsher is a Clinical Psychologist with specialization in children, adolescents and families. She conducts comprehensive psychological assessments to complex high need youth.
- Cathy Maser is a Paediatric Nurse Practitioner in the Division of Adolescent Medicine and the Team Lead for the Transgender Youth Clinic. Maser provides assessments and consultations for youth who identify as gender diverse or who may be gender questioning between ages 12 to 17. Maser makes treatment recommendations and collaborates with clients' primary care providers for youth who wish to pursue medical treatment.
Dr. Cecilia Marino
Dr. Clive Chamberlain
- Dr. Clive Chamberlain has been a practicing child psychiatrist for over 50 years, and has been providing virtual mental health assessments for over 20 years. Chamberlain provides general assessments and has particular experience with children involved in the courts, including aggressive and sexual misbehaviour. He also has extensive experience with working with First Nations children and youth.
Dr. Dafni Sadler
Dr. Donna MacLachlan
- Dr. Donna MacLachlan is a certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, working with clients and families under 18 years of age. Her practice includes assessment, treatment, program consultation and education regarding most mental health disorders for clients referred to a community-based mental health centre, residential treatment program and the TeleLink Mental Health program at SickKids.
Dr. Greg Lodenquai
- Dr. Greg Lodenquai is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with an interest in community based children's mental health, anxiety and trauma/attachment.
Dr. Irfan Mian
Janine Lawford, MSW, RSW
Dr. Jean Wittenberg
- Dr. Wittenberg is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who specializes in working with infants and young children, from infants to age six. He also works with adolescent mothers and their children, First Nations children, youth and their families, as well as children who have serious medical disorders.
Dr. Karen Leslie
Dr. Leora Pinhas
Dr. Lisa Sheinin
- Dr. Mark Hanson is a Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto and Fellowship Director, Department of Psychiatry at The Hospital for Sick Children. His clinical expertise relates to the psychiatric assessment and care of children and youth with anxiety and behavioural concerns. Dr. Hanson's research focus is on medical school admissions with specific interest areas being admissions tool development and social justice. His medical education research grants and publications relate to these two areas of inquiry.
Dr. Monidipa Ravi
- Dr. Nicola Keyhan, MA, MD, FRCPC, joined SickKids in 2005 as a staff psychiatrist. She is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Her main area of clinical expertise is in the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders. She also has a strong interest in psychotherapy and leads cognitive behavioural therapy groups for children with anxiety disorders and their parents.
- Dr. Peter Szatmari is a child and youth psychiatrist. Szatmari is currently the Chief of the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative at SickKids, CAMH and UofT. He clinical expertise is around assessment and treatment of children and youth with autism and comorbid mental health problems. Szatmari also has expertise in the area of adolescent mood disorders.
Dr. Pippa Moss
Dr. Priya Raju
Dr. Sharon Cirone
Dr. Siegi Schuler, PhD, RSW
- Dr. Siegi Schuler is a registered social worker who specializes in the assessment and treatment of children and youth who have experienced a wide range of mental health challenges and trauma,with a particular focus on boys and young men. Schuler also works extensively in the area of sports-performance with teens.
Dr. Susan Dundas
- Dr. Susan Dundas is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with over 30 years experience, focusing on high risk intervention and prevention. She has training in the area of Developmental Trauma and PTSD, specializing in trauma and working with children ages 0-6. She has also worked with latency age children (six to 2) and adolescents.
Dr. Tatyana Barankin
- Dr. Tatyana Barankin is a child psychiatrist with 30 years experience in children and adolescent health. Barankin provides consultations particularly in the area of mood and anxiety disorders, ADHD, autism, sequela of trauma, children at risk for mental problems and school problems, as well as family and interpersonal issues.
Dr. Upasana Krishnadev
Elizabeth Manson Award for Excellence in Community Children’s Mental Health
The Elizabeth Manson Award was established in 2005 by the SickKids Department of Psychiatry, to honour the lifetime commitment and dedication to children’s mental health services and education that “Liz” has passionately demonstrated. Supported financially by an endowment readily built by multiple donors, this award acknowledges the outstanding contributions of non-physician health professionals and/or leaders in the area of child and youth mental health, in Ontario.
This year we are looking to recognize an individual who has demonstrated an innovative response to service delivery, through exceptional quality of service and compassionate care in the face of unprecedented challenges brought on by the global pandemic.
Award winners will be announced virtually, via Zoom: TBD – details will be posted soon.
To nominate an individual for this award, please complete this fillable form. Note: all documents are to be uploaded via the form. For any questions related to the nomination process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline submission for 2020-21: October 15, 2021
Each nomination package must include the following:
- 1 letter of nomination from someone who has knowledge of the nominee and their work in children and youth mental health. (max 500 words).
- Copy of the nominee’s resume.
- One additional letter of endorsement from either a supervisor or reporting manager - **I agree to endorse ___ as Nominee to consider for the Elizabeth Manson Awards for Community Service in Children's Mental Health**.
- Optional: up to three samples of work that the nominee has done (presentations, pamphlets, papers, photos, endorsement letter from clients).
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With its origins in the year 2000, TeleLink has evolved from a pioneering videoconference-based program in scope, reach, technological modalities, service offerings, funders, and names.
Originally, TeleLink served only certain children’s mental health agencies designated by the Ministry of Child & Youth Services, for one-time consultations from child psychiatrists and specialist children’s mental health professionals. TeleLink saw its first significant expansion in 2007 with the addition of the Eastern (CHEO) and Western (CPRI) delivery hubs and their surrounding children’s mental health agencies.
In 2011 a further expansion to all children’s mental health providers in non-urban Ontario, followed by an Urban Telemental Health Services pilot to the Greater Toronto Area has positioned TMHS to be a truly pan-provincial program, supporting a variety of primary care providers of child/youth mental health care.