Cutting-edge work investigating new ways to treat mental illness and provide better care for patients will soon be one step closer to reality because of a massive $30-million donation to create a new research institute at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
The donation, made by the daughters of the late Audrey Campbell and their families, is the largest private donation ever made to a mental health and addiction research hospital in Canada.
The money will go toward the creation of the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute and focus on looking at new early detection methods for mental illness and addiction, improved treatment options and better ways to care for the countless people living with mental illness around the world.
"I think it definitely is going to mean breakthroughs in treatment and breakthroughs that will allow us to help head off illness, intervene earlier," said Darrell Louise Gregersen, president and CEO of the CAMH Foundation.
Aristotle Voineskos, head of the Kimel Family Imaging-Genetics Lab at CAMH, said the new funds will enable researchers at the hospital to conduct specialized research that could make them world leaders.
"I think it puts us on the map as sort of a key place to be for other top scientists around the world," he said.
In addition to exciting new research and treatment prospects, the donation represents a growing shift in attitudes toward mental illness. A few years ago, it would have been difficult – if not impossible – to find the name of a family or corporation on the side of a building dedicated to mental health.
But it seems that is starting to change. In 2009, the first donor-named building at CAMH, the McCain Building, was dedicated after Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, and his family.
Earlier this year, Bell Canada donated $10-million to CAMH toward funding of new hospital buildings. The main entry point will be called the Bell Gateway Building.
"We've reached the turning point," Ms. Gregersen said. "I can't tell you what it means to the patients and the staff at CAMH that people are showing such an expression of faith."
Audrey Campbell was the last surviving child of newspaper magnate Roy Thomson until her death in 2007, at age 90. Ms. Campbell, as well as her daughters, have made substantial donations to cancer research in the past, including $25-million in 2004 to fund the creation of the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.
Editor's note: Aristotle Voineskos is head of the Kimel Family Imaging-Genetics Lab at CAMH. Incorrect information appeared in the original version of this article.