February 5, 2018.

Adults with both neurodevelopmental disabilities and a mental illness will have greater opportunities to live healthier lives, thanks to Canada’s first centre for this population being opened at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

The Azrieli Centre for Adult Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Mental Health will provide better care, fuel new breakthroughs, train the next generation of experts and share groundbreaking knowledge with the world.

The Centre is made possible thanks to a $10.4-million gift from the Azrieli Foundation, bringing the foundation’s total donations to CAMH to almost $22 million. CAMH is proud to announce Dr. Yona Lunsky as the Centre’s inaugural director. Dr. Lunsky is a CAMH senior scientist and leads the H-CARDD (Health Care Access Research and Developmental Disabilities) Program, which studies health care patterns and develops innovative approaches through collaboration.

The announcement was made by Dr. Catherine Zahn, CAMH President and CEO, followed by a panel discussion hosted by author and Globe and Mail columnist Ian Brown. The panel featured Dr. Lunsky, Naomi Azrieli (Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation) and Daniel Share-Strom (Autism Advocate).

Forty-five per cent of adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities also have a mental illness, including addiction, and face profound challenges getting the care they need. A national study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry found almost half of hospital admissions for those with developmental disabilities were psychiatric hospitalizations. CAMH is already one of the few mental health care facilities in Canada with dedicated inpatient and outpatient services for this population. The new Azrieli Centre will be based on four pillars: clinical innovation, research, education and training, and knowledge exchange.

“We know how hard it is for families to find even the most basic health care when their loved ones have developmental disabilities,” said Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. “When you compound that with a mental illness, like depression or anxiety, there is a severe shortage of options. The Azrieli Centre for Adult Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Mental Health will support the hospital’s clinical services, research new approaches, develop best practices and train future experts who will work in centres across Canada to address these growing needs.”

“This CAMH Centre will re-imagine care and supports for people with neurodevelopmental disabilities who have the experience of mental illness” said Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO of CAMH. “We’re sending a strong message that individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities deserve equitable access to the resources of our health care system and our society.”

The Azrieli Centre for Adult Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Mental Health will be located at CAMH’s Queen Street site and will move into the new McCain Complex Care and Recovery Centre in 2020. It will provide support to clinician scientists and fellows from a range of clinical disciplines to work together on innovative projects to improve patient care and build capacity of future mental health care providers. The Centre will be embedded within the Adult Neurodevelopmental Service at CAMH, which employs 72 health care professionals from multiple disciplines and includes a full time senior scientist, clinician scientist, advanced practice clinical leader and education scholar.

About the Azrieli Foundation
For 25 years, the Azrieli Foundation has funded institutions and operated programs on the ground. The Foundation supports scientific and medical research, quality of life initiatives for people with developmental disabilities, higher education, Holocaust education, youth empowerment and school perseverance, music and the arts and architecture. www.azrielifoundation.org.

For interview opportunities, please contact:

Karen Cleveland
Senior Manager, Communications
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation
Karen.Cleveland@camh.ca / 416.729.8402

Posted in Press Release