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CAMH Leads the Way in Research

CAMH’s Dr. Paul Kurdyak, Director of Health Systems Research, Social and Epidemiological Research Program will lead the new mental health and addictions research program at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

“It’s the convergence of the need for better data and the fact that the Ministry of Health is desperately trying to address inequities and inefficiencies in the mental health care system - and we can help them with credible data and credible research to drive better decisions and policies,” says Paul who is also an adjunct scientist at ICES and an assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

ICES event(Left to right) Bruce Pollock, CAMH; Lori Spadorcia, CAMH;  Benoit Mulsant, CAMH; Health Minister Deb Matthews; Dr. Michael Baker, UHN; Dr. Paul Kurdyak, CAMH; Hon Michael Wilson, Dr. Michael Schull, ICES; PEI Health Minister Doug Currie

 

At the official launch at Queen’s Park on December 12, Ontario’s Minister of Health Deb Matthews announced the new initiative which will “help to improve the effectiveness, quality, equity and efficiency of mental health and addiction services in Ontario – resulting in better mental health and well-being for Ontarians. According to the World Health Organization, mental health and addictions have now surpassed all other causes as the highest in global disease burden – which is why this new research program is so important,” said Minister Matthews.

The program’s aim is to generate new knowledge and produce research in the area of mental health and addictions services. It also targets accessibility, delivery and cost of mental health and addiction services and takes into account the social determinants of health. Researchers will explore the connections between psychiatric and mental health as well as child and adolescent mental health issues with a special emphasis on transitions and the experience of mental health issues throughout all stages of life.

To provide the groundwork for changes in mental health services and policies, Paul explains the key is to combine what we know anecdotally, document and quantify it. “You can only change what you can measure and with this initiative, we can measure so that we can influence policy makers to make changes that will improve the lives of those living with mental illness.”

In his speech at the launch, Paul also emphasized the importance of this research initiative to “create evidence by using existing data to systematically measure interventions we believe will improve the quality of and access to care, address inequities, and ultimately improve the lives of individuals living with mental illnesses and addictions.

Research coming out of the ICES Mental Health Program, in collaboration with CAMH, was highlighted including the report “Opening Eyes, Opening Minds”, which showed the overall burden for selected mental illness and addictions was more than 1.5 times as much as all cancers and more than seven times as much as all infectious diseases. Also coming out of CAMH was a research study that showed the risk of death resulting from heart attack is higher in people with schizophrenia than in the general public.

As the leading addiction and mental health centre in the country, CAMH is perfectly positioned to provide leadership to the program. “The work that CAMH has been doing with ICES and the work that will continue with the launch of this program today will guide us in the implementation of the therapies and interventions that are effective,” says Dr. Benoit Mulsant, Physician-in-Chief at CAMH. “With this critical research we will be able to drive real change right across the system here in Ontario and beyond.”

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