CAMH: The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

CAMH is Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital and a global leader in mental health research. We set the standards for care, research, education and driving social change. We leverage these strengths to amplify impact and improve outcomes for people living with mental illness in our community, across Canada and around the world. Now more than ever, the world needs CAMH to lead the way for mental health.

Even before the onset of COVID-19, we were in the midst of a global mental health crisis. According to the World Health Organization, around 450 million people currently struggle with mental illness, making it the leading cause of disability worldwide. Research shows the pandemic has made mental health even more precarious—and that COVID-19 continues to have disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations, including BIPOC communities. CAMH and other organizations must bring an intersectional lens to our work, with every strategy grounded in the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion. We are committed to increasing race-based data collection, studying the impact of racism—specifically anti-Black racism—on health, working toward health equity at CAMH, and advocating for barrier-free mental health supports. In fall 2019, we launched Fair & Just CAMH Steering Committee, under the guidance and support from the Office of Health Equity. Through rigourous consultation with key community leaders working with Black populations across the city, they are developing a Fair and Just strategy: Dismantling Anti-Black Racism, the first of its kind at CAMH. The work of the CAMH Horizontal Violence, Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression Working Group, including the Anti-Racism Sub-Committee, will help shape this work.

CAMH has led work in the Caribbean for a number of years. Past projects include: a collaboration with the Inter-American Drug Control Commission focused on building capacity of national authorities to monitor and analyze the impact of illicit drugs in the Americas; a partnership with the Pan American Health Organization, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN-León), and National Institute of Mental Health in Panama to enable leaders transition to integrate mental health into primary care in their countries. While these projects ended in 2016; and a project with the University of the West Indies, providing basic and advanced addiction training to 55 health professionals from four Caribbean countries. Our ongoing work includes a youth mental health program that has already been implemented in several countries in Central America, with an eye toward expansion in English-speaking Caribbean countries (Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica). CAMH has reached out to collaborators at the University of the West Indies to explore the possibility of expansion and implementation in these countries, as well as seeking possible funding opportunities.