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SickKids, CAMH and U of T collaborate to appoint new Child and Youth Mental Health leader

For Immediate Release - November 26, 2012 (Toronto) - With more than 1.2 million children and youth in Canada affected by mental illness each year—and a youth suicide rate amongst the highest in the industrialized world— bold and collaborative leadership is required. This evening The Hospital for Sick Children, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of Toronto will announce that Dr. Peter Szatmari has been appointed to a newly-created, combined position responsible for developing and leading an integrated Child and Youth Mental Health program. The announcement will be made at a special presentation being given by Dr. Szatmari as part of the Innovations in Mental Health Series at MaRS at 6:15 pm.

“Sick Kids, CAMH and U of T form a remarkable health science powerhouse with a shared commitment to improving child and youth mental health—a field that is struggling to meet the growing needs of our young people and their families,” Dr. Szatmari said today. “I am honoured to have been selected to fill this exciting new position.”

The onset of symptoms of mental illlnesses occur most often before the age of 18. “If mental illness is recognized and treated in childhood or adolescence, the vast majority of kids who receive care will return to their regular activities. Yet fewer than one in four young people currently get the help they need,” said Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO of CAMH.  “We are committed to changing that.”

The SickKids/CAMH/U of T collaborative program will focus on three key areas: integrating clinical care so that young people receive enhanced evidence-based treatments; training future psychiatrists and mental health practitioners to help fill the gaps in service; and developing a specialized research program to discover answers to child and youth mental illness and addictions. Dr. Szatmari will fill the combined position of Chief, Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative at the two hospitals, as well as Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, starting March 1st 2013.

“We conducted an international search to find an academic child and youth psychiatrist with the exceptional leadership skills, research and clinical expertise, plus the proven ability to successfully foster collaboration in order to realize our high-impact vision,” said Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO of SickKids Hospital.

An award-winning expert in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Dr. Szatmari is currently Head of the Division of Child Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, where he holds the Chedoke Health Chair in Child Psychiatry. A researcher, clinician, author and founding member of a national network of parents, clinicians, policy makers and scientists dedicated to research in early intervention in autism-- Dr. Szatmari is part of an international collaboration investigating the genetics of autism and a Canadian multi-site study of pre-schoolers with ASD to identify factors that contribute to positive outcomes.

“Today, children’s mental health is being recognized as the issue of our time. With this collaboration under the leadership of Dr. Szatmari, we are poised to make significant advancements,” said Dr. Trevor Young, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.  “This means hope for our children, and a better future for us all.”

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About the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addictions. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. Visit www.camh.ca.

CAMH media contact: Michael Torres, Senior Media Relations Specialist, 416-595-6015; or media@camh.ca


About The Hospital for Sick Children

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is recognized as one of the world’s foremost paediatric health-care institutions and is Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health through the integration of patient care, research and education. Founded in 1875 and affiliated with the University of Toronto, SickKids is one of Canada’s most research-intensive hospitals and has generated discoveries that have helped children globally. Its mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized family-centred care; pioneer scientific and clinical advancements; share expertise; foster an academic environment that nurtures health-care professionals; and champion an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. SickKids is proud of its vision for Healthier Children. A Better World. For more information, please visit www.sickkids.ca.

SickKids media contact: Polly Thompson, 416-813-7654 ext. 2059; or polly.thompson@sickkids.ca


About the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine

The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine is at the heart of one of the great biomedical research, education and clinical care networks in the world. With nine fully affiliated hospitals and research institutes and 18 community-affiliated hospitals and clinical care sites, the Faculty of Medicine is a research powerhouse that offers unparalleled opportunities for its 6,800 faculty and 8,000-plus students at all levels. Nearly half of Ontario’s medical doctors and fully 25 per cent of all health and biomedical PhDs in Canada were trained by the Faculty of Medicine, which consistently ranks among the top medical schools worldwide.

Department of Psychiatry media contact: Suzanna Chang, Communications Coordinator, 416-979-4275; or suzanna.chang@utoronto.ca


MaRS Event (Photo Op)

CAMH – Innovations in Mental Health Series: Doing Better for Children and Families

Monday Nov 26, 2012
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (program begins at 6:15)

MaRS Discovery District (Auditorium)
101 College St.
Toronto, ON

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