Denise Robinson wants what any parent wants: to see her son happy, healthy and thriving. Getting to that point has been a 27-year struggle through red tape, long wait lists and a mental health care system that often fails people with the sort of complex neurodevelopmental disabilities that affect her son Taydon.
“For those who cannot speak for themselves, our system is so broken,” Denise says.
Her struggle is typical for parents of adult children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, autism or an intellectual disability. In fact, nearly half of adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities also have a mental illness—more than 30,000 people under age 65 in Ontario alone.
Established through a $10.4-million gift from the Azrieli Foundation, the Centre is developing a greater understanding of how best to care for a population that falls through the cracks far too often.
“The Centre is the spark,” says Dr. Yona Lunsky, the new Centre’s Director and an expert in the field. “We’re really going to make something that’s never been done before—and we’re going to do it here at CAMH.”
The Azrieli Centre will fuel new breakthroughs, provide better care and share groundbreaking knowledge. The ripple effect of this work will reach across Canada and around the world—empowering more people to reach their true potential.
“This funding allows us to pay attention to mental health and addictions in adults with very complex illnesses—both mental and physical. There are no other programs of this kind in Canada,” explains Dr. Lunsky. “And we can be very excited about that.”
The Centre will also play a vital role in training the next generation of experts.
To start to change the way we deliver care, we have to train the mental health providers of tomorrow—nurses, doctors and a range of health students. Through this Centre, we’ll actually see people trained with new skills in the next 10 years and working across the country.
Dr. Yona Lunsky, Director of the Azrieli Centre for Adult Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Mental Health
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Meeting the Needs of Adults with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Mental Illness
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 CAMH.