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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Prince Harry comes to CAMH

Prince Harry met an adoring crowd of onlookers during a morning visit to CAMH on Saturday, September 23.

A few hundred people braved the searing heat for a chance to get a glimpse and perhaps even a handshake or a hello from the Prince, and he didn’t disappoint.

Prince Harry's visit
Sisters Andreen Tranchell and Karen Deckker, a CAMH Payroll Supervisorboth CAMH staff, got up at 5:30 in the morning to make sure they could be at the front of the line when Prince Harry arrived.

“We’ve been royal watchers for years. It’s exciting he’s so close,” said Andreen. “It’s great that mental illness is not in the closet anymore. Everyone is touched by it.”

“I just wanted to get a glimpse of him,” added Karen.

Prince Harry's visit
Prince Harry stops to chat with 3 year old Miles Aris, son of Andrew Aris, CAMH's  Manager of Security Services

“How am I going to work today?” wondered an excited CAMH staff member after shaking hands with Prince Harry. Minutes later she was still staring at her hand.

“This is my calling in life,” said Enza Tiberi-Checchia, chief visionary officer and co-founder of the Hats on for Awareness charity, which raises awareness and funds for mental health. Her father Giovanni died by suicide 30 years ago. “I wanted to do something so that other families wouldn’t have to go through an experience like that.”

Prince Harry's visit
CAMH CEO Dr. Catherine Zahn (L) and CAMH Foundation CEO Darrell Gregersen join in the discussion with Prince Harry at the Youth Roundtable

During the rest of his nearly two-hour visit, hosted by CAMH CEO Dr. Catherine Zahn and CAMH Foundation CEO Darrell Gregersen, Prince Harry met with many of CAMH’s leading researchers, expressing keen interest in their work.  Of particular interest during one of the roundtables was the work of Dr. Fang Liu, Head of Molecular Neuroscience in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute. Her research into the treatment and prevention of PTSD hit home for the founder of the Invictus Games being held in Toronto this week, where many of the athletes have PTSD from their military service.

Prince Harry's visitPrince Harry participates in a Research Roundtable with Dr. Catherine Zahn, Dr. Jeff Daskalaskis (left) and a number of CAMH scientists.

It was the second visit to CAMH by a member of the Royal family.  His late mother the Princess Diana came to what was then known as the Addiction Research Foundation 26 years ago.

Prince Harry appeared visibly moved when Gloria Chaim, Associate Director, Child Youth and Family Services; and Head, Community Engagement and Partnership, McCain Centre for Child, Youth and Family Mental Health, told him about having met his mother when she came here.  She talked about what a profound impact Princess Diana had on the clients she met that day, and how much it means to all our current and future clients to have someone in his position working so hard to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction.

One of the scientists who participated in the roundtable discussions, Dr. Stephanie Ameis from the McCain Centre for Child, Youth and Family Mental Health, told Prince Harry about having had the opportunity to meet his mother on one of her visits to Canada when she was an 8-year-old girl.

Prince Harry's visit to CAMHPrince Harry's visit to CAMH
Youth Roundtable participant Nick Carveth (left)

Like his mother, Prince Harry had a particular interest in our work with young people.  Also like his mother, he asked to spend some private time away from all the cameras meeting with some of our current patients in the Child, Youth and Emerging Adult Program.

Prince Harry's visit to CAMH
With such a packed itinerary, Dr. Catherine Zahn’s main challenge was keeping Prince Harry on time.  But his sincere interest in the work of our clinicians, and especially the young patients and former clients he met, meant that his visit ran a good 20 minutes longer than scheduled.

Prince Harry's visit to CAMH
Time to go. Prince Harry saying goodbye to CAMH Foundation CEO Darrell Gregersen (l) and CAMH CEO Dr. Catherine Zahn.

“I was most overwhelmed by his passion for our cause, and the need to know and understand more,” said Dr. Zahn. “The most evocative thing about his visit was the two or three people who had met his mother. One level was the personal, and another was his passion for the cause. He understood the relevance of what we’re doing.”

Published on September 23, 2017


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