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Using videogames to raise awareness of healthy and harmful gaming

soulcrush - blogThe Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health brings treatment professionals and leading researchers together with experts in communicating and sharing knowledge.

Anya has tried every tactic to get her 18 year old son to cut down his video gaming. She has taken away internet access, grounded him and even tried bribing him into doing other activities.  “Peter comes home from school, throws his backpack on the ground and does not come out of his room for hours” she explains. “I can’t even get him to come out for dinner most nights”. When Peter was in high school, Anya connected with her son’s school teachers and school appointed social workers desperately looking for ways to help her son. His grades were slipping, and she was blaming the video games. Now that Peter is in college, he often stays up until 2 or 3 am gaming and browsing the internet and sometimes misses his morning classes. When he’s not playing Counter-Strike, he is watching online videos of people playing. Read more

Let’s talk about Concurrent Disorders

Concurrent-disorder-smby Dr. Donna Ferguson, Psychologist with the WSIB Psychological Trauma Program

This week is National Addiction Awareness Week and I would like to focus on those who struggle with co-occuring mental illness and addiction – called concurrent disorders.

This can mean experiencing depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, PTSD, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, or another mental illness, while also experiencing an alcohol use disorder, cannabis dependence, or even problem gambling. These co-occuring illnesses may be active at the same time or at different times, in the present or in the past, and their symptoms may vary in intensity and form over time. Read more

How Tobacco Free is keeping me healthy

Tobacco freeLilian Riad-Allen, Project Manager of CAMH’s Tobacco Free Initiative speaks to a client who applauds the move.

I was contacted by a former client named Sean who felt compelled to share his tobacco story. Sean said he was interested in sharing his story because he believes that quitting smoking is the best thing a person can do for their health, especially someone on income support. Read more

The mental health of young people of South Asian origin – a neglected group in Toronto.

141114-Blog3By Gursharan Virdee, Research Analyst, Schizophrenia Division, Complex Mental Illness Program at CAMH

Toronto, the cultural mosaic, provides for a rich and diverse community life. A significant proportion of Toronto’s residents are immigrants, with 12% identifying as South Asian, 11% as Chinese and 9% as African Caribbean (City of Toronto, 2013). For some this is an environment which provides everything needed to thrive, but sadly a significant number are excluded and overlooked from these resources.

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Youth Speak Out on Engagement

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The Northwest Toronto Service Collaborative is a group of service providers and community memberswho are finding ways to improve services for children, youth and families with mental health and addictions needs in North York and City of York.

“The meaningful engagement of individuals with lived experience changes everything. True or false?”

That is the question that was asked of four members of the Northwest Toronto Service Collaborative’s Youth Advisory Group.

These young people have been offering their input into a systems change initiative in North York and City of York called Peer Positive. This initiative is working to support community service providers to engage ‘peers’ as equal partners in the design, delivery, and review of services.

Read more

The Meaning of Remembrance Day

PoppyBy Monica Beron, Social Worker at CAMH

Last week on the subway I saw a kid, a very young kid in street clothes in his early twenties. As the sister of an army kid I always notice the giveaways; the dog tags around the kid’s neck- those were the real thing. I noticed a couple more things. I smiled. I got off at my stop. I wondered when he was deployed. I went home.

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Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival (November 10th to 15th, 2014)

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Rory Culkin delivers perhaps the performance of the festival in Gabriel.

By Jeff Wright, Program Manager for Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival, and Media Arts Manger at Workman Arts. He also programs for Canadian Music Week, Calgary Underground Film Festival, and CUFF.Docs.

This week, the staff of Workman Arts sets up temporary shop at TIFF Bell Lightbox for its annual film festival, Rendezvous with Madness. RWM has been exploring and encouraging dialogue about mental illness and addiction through the medium of film for 22 years, and we just announced that our opening night screening of Rocks in My Pockets (the first ever feature-length animated film about mental illness) has sold out.
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The Ottawa Shootings: Sensationalism, terrorism or mental illness?

By Lori Spadorcia, Vice President, Communications and Partnerships at CAMH

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Lori Spadorcia

When the news came across the twitterverse, I was in an Executive Leadership Team meeting. It seemed unreal for Canada but soon after the emails started to file in one by one – subject line: “I’m ok, in lockdown but safe”. Several of my former colleagues and friends were keeping in touch – no doubt also hoping to receive information from the outside to understand the situation around them. I worked on Parliament Hill for a decade – it was an absolute privilege and it still feels like a home to me. In fact, I remember being in those exact hallways during another horrific event – 9/11.

Ironically, I was to attend an event that afternoon with the Prime Minister and Malala Yousafzai on her first visit to Canada – Malala herself a symbol of the global fight against terrorism.

Read more

Paying it forward

Jim-Gina-OT-AwardsGina Oades is an Occupational Therapist (OT) with CAMH’s LEARN program, a program that facilitates recovery and community integration for clients recovering from a first episode of psychosis. OTs at CAMH help people to recover and stay well by supporting them while they engage in meaningful occupations in life (Self-care, Leisure, and Productivity).

A few weeks ago, I paid forward an act of kindness on behalf of the clients and staff at LEARN. I secretly nominated two of my CAMH colleagues, Jim Davey and Bill Markakis, for the Excellence in Interprofessional Support of Occupational Therapy Services Award, in recognition for the work that they’ve done connecting our clients with volunteers from the CAMH Corporate Volunteer Program. This program offers hands-on volunteer opportunities that match the values of participating company. This year, the LEARN program, with the help of Jim and Bill, hosted 10 different companies in our Sports & Gym Group!

And what is even more remarkable? They won the award!

Read more

As the clocks fall back, plan ahead

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By CAMH with thanks to Dr. Robert Levitan

This Sunday marks the end of Daylight Savings Time, and most Canadians will set back their clocks by an hour as we get ready for the shorter days of winter. For many, the change in time can be beneficial – we’re gifted an extra hour to catch up on sleep after a busy fall cleanup or some raucous Halloween parties.

However, it also signals shorter days are on their way, which becomes problematic for those who are susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Approximately 2-5% of the population will become severely affected by seasonal depression, while another 10-15% will experience a milder form, and a larger part of the population will feel a mild sense of unease in the form of winter blues.

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Building Mental Health Capacity Worldwide

globalimpact-CAMH

By Sireesha Bobbili, Special Advisor / Project Coordinator, Office of Transformative Global Health, Social & Epidemiological Research, CAMH

Did you know that CAMH has an office dedicated to global mental health?

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Trauma and Tragedy

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Image courtesy of ErasingScott on Flickr

by Dr. Donna Ferguson, Psychologist with the WSIB Psychological Trauma Program

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Dr. Donna Ferguson

In the wake of tragic events such as last week’s shooting in Ottawa, many unanswered questions have arisen about the role that mental illness played, if any, in this attack. What I would like to discuss today is something different—the impact that such a traumatic event can have on others, including people we may know or work with.

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‘Selfree’ – The Freedom to be Me

Selfree CAMHblog

Deryn Duesbery,Yasmine Gray, Malindu Danthanarayana, and Finola Dsouza blog about their own experiences with self-image, mental health, and the powerful new campaign from NYAC, #Selfree

I had this really weird moment back in high school when I found myself identifying with Jekyll and Hyde. There was me – happy, sixteen, doing well in school, dating a cute boy. And then there was the me that didn’t really feel like me at all – moody, distant, and always just so freaking tired. That other me could barely do anything but stay in bed all day and ignore my phone, emerging from my room after eight hours of Netflix to snap at my sister and manipulate my way out of eating a full meal. But that wasn’t a part of me I let everyone see. That wasn’t a part of me I let anyone see, actually. Image is not always reality.

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Engaging in the Next Big Breakthroughs with CAMH

Breakthrough-Challenge-BlogMorgan Barense, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Toronto and Co-Chair of CAMH Engage, blogs on the Breakthrough Challenge, a research-inspired event in support of CAMH Foundation on November 6.

Morgan Barense

Morgan Barense

As a scientist, I’m always excited to hear about the next big breakthrough – a discovery that will change the way we look at a disease or a new treatment that will change lives of patients. Through their commitment to discovery, CAMH is inspiring hope in millions of Canadians who suffer from mental illness and addiction.

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Legalizing Marijuana : One Mother’s Perspective

Photo courtesy of 'drivebysh00ter' on Flickr

Photo courtesy of ‘drivebysh00ter’ on Flickr

A mother and supporter of the CAMH Foundation talks about her son’s experience with cannabis, and why she supports the recently-released CAMH Cannabis Policy Framework.

When I tell people that marijuana has ruined my son’s life but I think that it should be legalized, they are surprised. I understand that. It is a conclusion I reached only after much research and thought.

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CAMH’s Cannabis Policy Framework: Legalization with regulation

Dr. Jürgen Rehm

Dr. Jürgen Rehm

By Dr. Jürgen Rehm, Director of the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at CAMH

Today CAMH released a new Cannabis Policy Framework . This document examines the evidence on the harms associated with cannabis use and, based on that evidence, recommends legalization with strict regulation as the most effective means of reducing the harms associated with its use. Read more

Nuit Blanche at CAMH

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By Joan Chang, CAMH communications coordinator

Queen West’s sidewalks were packed with art lovers last Saturday for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, an annual event running from sundown on Saturday to sun up on Sunday, where the downtown core is taken over by artists of all disciplines. Read more

Forensic system and passes

Dr. Sandy Simpson

By Dr. Sandy Simpson, CAMH Chief of Forensic Psychiatry

Patients at CAMH who have been found to be “Not Criminally Responsible” for their actions because of mental illness are admitted under an order of the Ontario Review Board.

The goal is recovering their mental health and returning safely and successfully to the community. Read more

Suicide Prevention: Three Steps Forward

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World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10th. The World Health Organization has just released a global report– a call to action on this matter of life and death.In Canada, the numbers tell a sad story: Read more

Every day should be Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day

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By Lana Popova, Senior Scientist, Social and Epidemiological Research Department at CAMH

We live in a society where alcohol is the single most widely accepted substance. According to the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, among the general population 15 years of age and older, approximately 74 per cent of women consume alcohol in Canada. Read more

Exiting the streets: homeless youth need more than just housing

Young man sitting down

By Sean Kidd, Psychologist in Chief (interim) CAMH

Almost inevitably, in conversations about youth homelessness, the question “how did they end up on the streets?” is closely followed by the concern “where do they end up?” Read more

Spirituality, culture and voodoo: Mental health partners in Haiti

by Michael-Jane Levitan, Special Advisor in the Office of Transformative Global Health at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

(L to R) Ati Max Beauvoir and Akwatu Khenti

(L to R) Ati Max Beauvoir and Akwatu Khenti

Upon touching down in Port-au-Prince, our Office of Transformative Global Health (OTGH) team travelled across bumpy roads, past UN headquarters, and headed towards the mountains. Read more

CAMH Mental Wellness in School

Photo: Students, by Bart Everson on Twitter, CC

Photo: Students, by Bart Everson on Twitter, CC

By Jessica Bodach, National Youth Advisory Committee (NYAC) Member

Youth to Youth – Building Resilience

Back to school season is looming as the summer quickly approaches its end. Whether you are dreading your return to school or welcoming it there is no time like the present to prepare yourself for a new school year. Here are five strategies to keep in mind that can help build your mental and emotional resilience as you face a new school year: Read more

Q&A: Complementary and alternative medicine

People with depressive or anxiety disorders often combine complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies with medications to self-treat symptoms. CAMH’s Dr. Arun Ravindran, Chief of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Service, and Tricia da Silva, researcher in the program discuss their recent review of natural practices and mental illness.

Read more

Let’s talk about suicide prevention

Pink haired man hugging an senior woman

Photo: Hugs by Halcyon Styn on Flickr, CC

The news of Robin Williams’ death has hit many people hard.

In the aftermath of what the media are reporting as a probable suicide, people have many questions about how suicide can be prevented.

Where can you get help in a crisis?

If you need help:

  • Visit your local emergency department or call 911
  • Contact a nurse at Telehealth Ontario by dialing 1-866-797-0000
  • Call the Kids Help Phone at 1 800 668-6868
  • Call the Good2Talk support line at 1-866-925-5454 (for post-secondary students in Ontario aged 17-25)

>> See more emergency crisis and distress centres

If you’re in crisis, the CAMH Emergency Department is open 24/7.

Treatment and support are available.

>> Treatment from CAMH

>> Ontario Mental Health Helpline (open 24/7 for treatment anywhere in Ontario)​​

The myth that talking about suicide is dangerous—that raising the issue with a troubled person could give them the idea of suicide—persists. Let’s debunk it right now.

If you think someone you care about is thinking about suicide—ask them. Read more

Young and bisexual? Study highlights need for more support

by Margaret Robinson, Mi’kmaq feminist scholar working on LGBTQ issues in health

visualization of social network from study

This beautiful L-word-like diagram shows the recruitment pattern for our Risk & Resilience study on “bi” mental health.

When it comes to LGBTQ health issues, bisexual people are frequently overlooked. Too often, bisexuality is dismissed as a phase or trend, and programs designed for gay, lesbian, or trans youth may not provide the support and mentorship that bisexual youth need.

A study by the CAMH Re:searching for LGBTQ Health team raises important questions about how we understand and support bisexual youth.

Our team surveyed 405 bisexual-identified people across Ontario, and compared the data about young people (between age 16 and 24) with adults (25 and older).

See: Mental Health and Substance Use among Bisexual Youth and Non-Youth in Ontario, Canada

Read more

What does it take to create a healthy work environment?

by Carolyn Dewa, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and Head of CAMH’s Centre for Research on Employment and Workplace Health

image of a man with head in hands over a latptop - made of words stress and burnout

Photo: Burnout & Stress

As an economist, I’m often asked questions about efficiency. As in: How do we do more with less?

But we often forget that we’re not asking more of machines – we’re asking more of people.

In our quest for efficiency, we can inadvertently create inefficiency by producing an environment ripe for burnout and high chronic stress. (See: What can we do to stop physician burnout in Canada?)

One clear way of increasing efficiency is to ensure that we have a physically and psychologically healthy work force. The first step towards this goal involves creating a healthy and well-equipped work environment.

A mountain of research (See: Healthy Work: Stress, Productivity, and the Reconstruction of Working Life; Fourth European Working Conditions Survey; Examination of factors associated with the mental health status of principals) tells us that feeling supported by co-workers and supervisors, finding meaning in our jobs, being trusted to finish our work and being accountable for reasonable deadlines all contribute to our mental health.

While we know these things to be true, the question remains – how do we do all this with limited time and resources?

Read more

Nutrition tips to manage nicotine withdrawal

Christina Zavaglia, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator

Sign in wilderness says - quit smoking and see how it feels

Time for fresh air. Photo by James, CC 

Do you know that CAMH is tobacco-free?

The CAMH dietitians wanted to show support for those thinking about quitting smoking with some tips.

While this may not be an easy feat, healthy eating and proper nutrition are important factors in quitting successfully.

Here are some nutrition and healthy eating tips to help manage some of the common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal: Read more

Stretch the Soul and the benefits of yoga

by Amanda DeGasperis and Stephanie DeGasperis – CAMH Foundation supporters, and organizers of “Stretch the Soul,” an annual yoga event in support of CAMH.

Room full of people doing yoga, warrior pose

A great turnout at our third annual Stretch the Soul fundraiser in support of CAMH

Whether you are an expert at downward dog or a novice learning how to establish a stable butterfly pose, yoga is good for the mind and great for the soul.

On July 13, we were inspired by the incredible show of support for CAMH and mental health when 80 participants came out for a day of yoga at the third annual “Stretch the Soul” event in support of CAMH.

When we started the event, our mission was to raise awareness and end stigma towards mental illness, and we’re happy to say that it continues each year.

Like millions of people around the world, we have been deeply touched by mental illness. Change is within our grasp and we wanted to make a difference with an event to support the incredible work being done at CAMH.

If you couldn’t make it out to our day of yoga, there are many ways you can keep healthy and happy this summer and throughout the year. Read more

Q&A: Getting to know CAMH’s ethicist, Kevin Reel

by Joan Chang

CAMH ethicist Kevin Reel

Ethicist Kevin Reel

Q: What’s a health care ethicist?

A: What we do in the practice of healthcare ethics is help people think through really challenging decisions and situations and figure out what causes that sense of ‘yuck’ that we feel when ethical values are in conflict – our own, or each other’s.

The more official term for the ‘yuck’ factor is moral distress, but ‘yuck’ really tells it the way it is. The problem with the ‘yuck’ feeling is that it’s not always reliable. We may not feel it at all when we should, or the ‘yuck’ might be more emotional than ethical.

Ethical decisions are essentially about trying to figure what is the ‘good’ or ‘right’ thing to do in a situation. Such situations occur every day, and often go unnoticed because they are pretty straightforward. But sometimes they are much more complex.

Thinking through them can be much easier when an objective person helps you. The ethicist can be that objective person – part of, and familiar with, CAMH, but not in the middle of the situation. Read more

Survey: What do people think of our tobacco free policy?

by Lilian Riad-Allen

In the cigar shop that doubled as a convenience store by my first residence in university, I remember the old cigarette ads plastered across the wall: Doctors in white coats promoting their favourite brand of cigarettes, children and even babies in cigarette ads, and women talking about the weight loss benefits of smoking.

I was always intrigued by these images as they seemed to reflect a reality that I couldn’t imagine. Attitudes had shifted so much since then that the idea of a physician advocating for tobacco use seemed almost satirical.

Attitudes have indeed been shifting. Since the first US surgeon general’s report in 1964[1] , the number of people smoking has been in constant decline to where we are now, 50 years later, with approximately 17 per cent of Canadians still smoking.

When you compare that to the number of people with mental health and addiction issues who smoke, you see a striking difference – with an estimated smoking prevalence of over 60 per cent. Read more

Police and the mental health system: An opportunity for positive social change

Polic encounters with people in crisis - text from report cover

I’m publicly supporting Justice Frank Iacobucci’s report to the Toronto Police Service (TPS), Police Encounters with People in Crisis (pdf).

It’s an important step toward changing the way society thinks about, and responds to, people with mental illness.

I’m honoured to serve on the advisory committee that will assist the TPS to implement the report’s recommendations.

Jennifer Chambers of CAMH’s Empowerment Council played a prominent advocacy role in the lead-up to the report. She is so right when she says that one of the best ways to address prejudice against a group is to give them a voice and it’s very gratifying to see that people with lived experience of mental illness will be members of the implementation committee.

The tragic death of teenager Sammy Yatim last year led to this report. I share Justice Iacobucci’s view that balance is necessary in addressing the gaps brought to light by this tragedy. Read more

What can we do to stop physician burnout in Canada?

by Stephen Kish

We all know about the long wait times when we visit family doctors in Canada.

This is a special problem in psychiatry as most psychiatric help is provided by these first line treatment providers.

Now we are told that physician “burnout” (exhaustion, cynicism, and low professional accomplishment) will only make matters worse and the lines longer.

Carolyn Dewa, who heads the CAMH Centre for Research on Employment and Workplace Mental Health, and Dr. Philip Jacobs from the Institute of Health Economics in Alberta recently published an estimate in BMC Health Services Research of the percentage of physicians in Canada who are suffering from burnout and the consequences associated with this stress.

Read more

The do’s and don’ts of summer nutrition

by Lola Teelucksingh, Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

Lady holding a comically small ice cream cone

Treats are ok, but go for small sizes! Okay, maybe not that small :) Photo: Edited Itsy Bitsy Cone by Brian Pirie

Are those iced-cappuccinos, juicy BBQ burgers, or late night trips to Dairy Queen taunting you?

Are you having difficulty staying on track with your healthy eating during the dog days of summer?

It’s not easy to make healthy choices when there are so many delectable summer treats available. Here are some simple tips to help you make healthy choices, while still enjoying the occasional summer treat! Read more

Be Safe app for youth: A community creating change

by Erin Schulthies

BeSafe

Be Safe was first developed for young people in London Ontario, to help them navigate the mental health system. If you’re interested in adapting for your city, contact mindyourmind

On April 1st, the London branch of the Systems Improvement through Service Collaboratives launched the Be Safe app, a tool to help youth in crisis.

With both a smartphone version and a printable paper pocket guide (pdf), it is versatile for both young people and their mental health care providers.

I should know. After 13 years in London’s mental health care system, knowing the essentials of my needs in crisis is key to weathering my storms.

The Be Safe app helps me keep my personal information close at hand and helps me choose where to turn should I need extra support.

I am proud to say that I was part of the team that developed this app from the beginning, along with other youth with lived experience. Read more

Eating your way to a better mood

by Christina Zavaglia, Registered Dietitian

Summer is here and with it comes energy and a sense of renewal.

Our summer season is far too short but maintaining a balanced diet can help you improve your mood and energy levels too – ensuring you make the most of the summer days.

Food provides us with energy in the form of calories, obtained from carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Here are some ways food affects our mood. Read more

The future is here: My experience with personalized medicine

by Larry Meikle

Larry

Larry

My name is Larry Meikle. I’m a retired Ontario civil servant and a student in the University of King’s College Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Nonfiction Writing, where I’m in the process of writing my first book.

This past year I’ve felt better than I have for decades. I would not be a graduate student today if I were feeling the way I did even a year ago, had I not participated in CAMH’s IMPACT study on mental health problems and DNA.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 1997 and since then I’ve been taking antidepressants, with some degree of success. I tried going off my meds on a couple of occasions in the hope I could battle depression without them, but came to the painful realization I couldn’t.

A couple of years ago the antidepressant I had been taking for so many years suddenly stopped working for me. It “pooped out,” as the saying goes. My family doctor started me on a new medication, and that seemed to go reasonably well. Whenever I saw my doctor I’d tell him I was “getting by,” but anxiety was still a problem and I felt I could be doing much better.

Read more

YES! Ontario’s mental health and human rights policy can help

By Lucy Costa, Advocate with the Empowerment Council

poster and brochures for the OHCR policy on mental health disabilities and addictions

I support the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) policy and in fact, I support any and all avenues that discuss the rights of people with psychiatric disabilities and/or addictions – whether via the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act or the CAMH Bill of Client Rights (pdf).

Why? Because:

  1. Rights processes unsettle the status quo, they defeat denial by challenging powerful institutions or practices that entrench prejudice or inequality even in well-meaning individuals and organizations.   
  2. The principle that one cannot be more or less human than any another member of our society is the most unprecedented act of love and equality we can all aspire to.

As limited as legal instruments may be, I believe we shouldn’t succumb to a buffet of opposing arguments for example, that rights are a “hollow hope” or, that rights “have gone too far” in protecting clients from needed treatment. This only succeeds in obscuring the significance and meaning of dialogue that can occur through tribunals, lower and higher courts particularly for people who are otherwise rendered voiceless.

Read more

Youth and mental health: 2 projects, many members and one amazing group

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Maree

by Maree Rodriguez, member of the CAMH National Youth Advisory Committee I have some exciting news to share about the CAMH National Youth Advisory Committee (NYAC)! So much has been going on since our first meeting as a group and we are so pumped since we’ve been getting a lot done along the way. We have finally decided on two national anti-stigma campaigns that we plan to share in the near future with you. These are still in the early stages but here goes:

  1.  A “Get to know NYAC” video project. This way, you get introduced to the people behind NYAC who are youth passionate about making a change about mental health.
  2. A call and response. This will be in the form of a ”Selfie” where we will ask for submissions from young people to submit a Selfie and respond to a question about mental health. This idea creates an “Image versus Reality” concept showing that image is not always reality letting the viewer know that you can’t judge a book by its cover. It will hopefully bring up the conversation showing that mental health can affect everyone.

Read more

Mental health and human rights: Can Ontario’s new policy help?

By Roslyn Shields, CAMH Senior Policy Analyst

This past Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend the release of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s new policy on preventing discrimination based on mental health disabilities and addictions.

The Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall proudly introduced this tool for change and the Empowerment Council’s Lucy Costa remarked that the policy will help put Ontario on the “rights track.”

This new policy will assist people and organizations to define, assess and resolve human rights issues related to mental health disabilities and addictions, such as modifying work hours for an employee to attend counselling appointments or making amendments to a housing unit for a tenant with post traumatic stress disorder. And it’s clear that this help is needed.

Despite protection for people with disabilities under the Human Rights Code, people with mental health disabilities and addictions continue to experience discrimination in many areas of their lives.

Read more

How can we prevent LGBTQ suicide?

by Margaret Robinson, Mi’kmaq feminist scholar working on LGBTQ issues in health

For many of us in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) communities, dealing with depression, anxiety, and occasional suicidal thoughts is just part of the grind.

For some of us, losing our friends to suicide has become a rite of passage.

Recent studies make it clear that suicide rates are high for LGBTQ people, especially bisexual and trans people.

Canadian data from 2003 show that bisexuals are more likely to consider suicide, compared with our straight, gay, and lesbian peers (see: Men’s sexual orientation and health in Canada, and Women’s sexual orientation and health: Results from a Canadian population-based survey).

Read more

Escaping violence, finding treatment for trauma

by Donna Ferguson, Psychologist with the WSIB Psychological Trauma Program

Canada is a safe haven for so many refugees fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries, but these victims of trauma often cannot escape the nightmares and haunting memories they bring with them.

Whether they have escaped civil conflict or genocide, these clients who have been traumatized can often be embarrassed because it is not something discussed in their culture. For example, in the Caribbean, the stigma and shame connected with mental illness means people feel they are not allowed to complain, not allowed to seek help because coming forward means shame on you and shame on your family.

The reality is when you don’t have support – either social or familial support – and you leave post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) untreated, it can lead to other mental health problems or addiction issues.

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The great yarn bombing of 2014

So you wouldn’t believe how excited we’re getting at CAMH about being YARN BOMBED!

CAMH’s Queen Street site is lucky enough to be the target of a community event: 100 in 1 Day, a citizen driven-festival to unite people across the city to make Toronto a better place by creating acts of urban change.

The event is held in several Canadian cities, with Toronto events taking place this Saturday, June 7.

There are all types of creative projects happening on Saturday – the yarn bombing at CAMH is one of 170 events taking place across the city. The interventions are intended to raise awareness of urban and social issues, inspire ideas, and motivate leaders to consider new approaches to old problems.

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Exploring the future of mental health services

by Josina Vink, Regional Implementation Coordinator, GTA Region, Provincial System Support Program

What might we find in our bathroom cabinets in 2034?

What could the future of mental health services look like?

What does it mean to invest in future-oriented health innovation?

These are the questions explored by 40 service providers, innovators and individuals with lived experience of mental health needs at a session hosted by MaRS and CAMH on May 23rd.

Chris McCarthy, innovation lead at Kaiser Permanente, opened up the afternoon with a demonstration of the value and process of establishing innovation capacity within healthcare settings, exemplified by the development of Kaiser’s Innovation Consultancy.

The discussion with Chris was followed by a hands-on workshop to test out an emerging innovation method to explore the future of mental health.

Read more

Tobacco research and treatment: We’ve come a long way

by Wayne Skinner, CAMH Deputy Clinical Director, Addictions Programs

World No Tobacco Day is on May 31, and I’ve been reflecting how attitudes to cigarettes have drastically evolved in recent history.

When I started working as a therapist at the Addiction Research Foundation (which became part of CAMH in 1998) in the late 1970s, I can remember a client, proudly receiving my praise for having successfully withdrawn from heroin, taking out a cigarette and saying, “Now if I could only quit these!”

In those days, we didn’t even ask people if they smoked when we took drug histories. Indeed, it was more common than not for counsellors to offer clients a cigarette as a friendly way of starting a session.

Read more

Vote for mental health #Vote4MHA

I always get a little emotional during elections. As a student of political science, I have always taken my duty to participate seriously.

As a citizen, I have always felt proud and grateful to live in a free and democratic country. And, I love placing that ballot into the box!

I am equally passionate about CAMH’s promise to drive social change. We are improving the lives of people with mental illness and addictions by building awareness and understanding, promoting healthy public policies, and collaborating to improve our system of care.

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Going digital: Confessions of a registered nurse

by Irene Boldt, registered nurse at CAMH and Nursing Practice Council Chair

In this digital age I sometimes feel a little analog.

I doubt I’m alone in feeling this way, but with new technology everywhere, sometimes I feel like I’m all thumbs. I have to admit that my discomfort with technology leads me to perceive it as a barrier to the nursing care I provide. I have never figured out how to invite technology into my practice in a way that makes sense.

But I know technological change is inevitable, so as we prepare for the transition to our new electronic health system (called I-CARE – and named by a nurse!), I am going to put my thumbs aside, assume a ‘glass-half-full’ perspective, and make every effort to embrace the benefits of technology.

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Q&A: Exploring the ties between physical and mental health

By Joan Chang, Communications Coordinator with Public Affairs at CAMH

You likely know obesity is a health problem for the general Canadian population. What you may not know is that obesity is of particular concern for people with mental illness.

I spoke with Dr. Rohan Ganguli, who has been studying obesity and mental health for 15 years. He’s Senior Scientist at CAMH, Professor of Psychiatry with the Faculty of Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Chronic Disease Management at the University of Toronto. He’s one of the organizers and speakers at this year’s Mental Health and Obesity Conference (pdf), on May 14 in Toronto. Read more

How to improve youth services? (Hint: Involve young people!)

by Olivia Heffernan and Tyson Herzog, peer support facilitators for the CAMH National Youth Advisory Committee

We recently introduced the National Youth Advisory Committee (NYAC) and are still busy getting the word out. So far, we’ve got about 80 members, and we’ve had three rounds of teleconference meetings.

The idea behind the National Youth Advisory Committee is to give young people a voice when it comes to mental health. We’re interested in improved services for young people – services that reflect our experiences and perspectives. Read more

Homeless youth and mental health: What’s next?

by Sean Kidd, Head of the Psychology Service of CAMH’s Schizophrenia Services and Assistant Professor with the University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry

On the same day in February, 14 organizations in 12 Canadian cities surveyed over 1,000 homeless youth.

The findings of this national survey describe what many working in the public service sector grapple with on a daily basis – that mental health and addictions concerns are extremely common among homeless youth in Canada.

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