October 3, 2017 by Corinne Lynds
TORONTO – Oct. 2nd marked the beginning of Mental Illness Awareness Week, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) held the official groundbreaking for the boldest phase yet of its Queen Street Redevelopment Project.
When construction is completed, the two new buildings, with approximately 600,000 square feet of space, will feature 235 inpatient beds, a 24/7 Emergency Department, a 300-seat auditorium, a unique ‘therapeutic neighbourhood’ for patients, and much more.
This phase will transform care for patients with complex and acute mental illness, challenge stigma and discrimination, and enhance our city.
“Today’s groundbreaking is the product of years of hard work and dedication in the service of transforming care for people with mental illness,” said CAMH president and CEO Catherine Zahn. “Our new buildings will be so much more than walls, floors and ceilings. They will be respectful and dignified places that promote healing and recovery. They will be a powerful symbol of CAMH’s move away from institutionalization and towards integration within our community. And they will serve our academic mission to advance mental health research nationally and globally.”
”This exciting next step in the redevelopment of CAMH is an example of our government’s commitment to improving access to high-quality mental health supports,” said Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “CAMH is a nationwide leader in the mental health sector, and our government is proud to support this project which will enhance CAMH’s ability to support people in our community.”
For former CAMH patient Jessica Rogers, today’s groundbreaking had special significance. She was one of the very first patients admitted to the new Irma Brydson In-Patient Unit for Youth with concurrent mental illness and addictions when it opened in 2012. Only 15-years-old at the time and grappling with heroin addiction and mental illness, she had already been to a range of treatment centres in Toronto before coming to CAMH.
“It was the warmest and most therapeutic environment I had ever experienced,” said Rogers, now 20 and substance-free for almost two years. “CAMH never stopped believing in me. Even when I had zero faith in myself, and everybody else had written me off as a hopeless case, when I felt I had nothing to live for, nobody ever gave up hope on me. The people on the unit saw the potential that I didn’t know I had. They believed in me until I could believe in myself.”