Tag Archives: CAMH

CAMH Receives $100 Million Anonymous Donation

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In case you’re like me and generally pretty cynical about the intentions of most people, we are both wrong on this day. Oh, so very, very wrong.

An anonymous donor has just done something staggering – He/She/They has just donated $100 million to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s leading treatment and research centre for mental health and addiction.

And they don’t want to be named! Who the what the saints and angels!

Per the article in the Toronto Star, “A donor is giving a record $100 million to CAMH — and doesn’t want to be named“:

The donation was given to support research into mental illnesses, which affect some 6.7 million Canadians and are the leading cause of disability on earth.

The donation…will support the recruitment and retention of top scientists and encourage them to take chances with their research.

“In order to enable quantum leaps forward, this gift will also support high-risk, high-reward research,” the donor said.

Miracles really do happen and there are such things as real-life saints.



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World Mental Health Day


In honour of World Mental Health Day (#WorldMentalHealthDay), what better way to further the initiative than to talk about a subject which is still shunned by much of society. There is no shame in discussing this issue, save the wall of fear we ourselves erect.

And that’s because we are all damaged goods. The difference with many of us is the wrapping paper we put on the outside to make things look pretty. And acceptable. And safe. But underneath the shiny, bleached pulp, we all struggle. We try and make sense of the world. Sometimes we make brave advancements, and other times we cower in fear, unable to face the deafening light of reality.

Deep down, in that cave we don’t let a soul, yet which houses our very own, we spend much of our time when alone. We don’t allow others in lest they scar its pristine walls with their breath, or damage its floor with their stomping.

I can think of two words in English that embody this day very well. Not perfectly, of course, as language is a human invention, and therefore necessarily flawed, but I think compassion and empathy do a pretty good job nonetheless. (In the past, people also used compassionate as a verb. I like that, and would like to resurrect its usage.)

In my experience, compassion is gained by a wealth of human interactions, while reading a wide variety of books inculcates empathy, even in the mean-spirited.

I was watching a TED Talk recently and Joan Halifax Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care — was describing what compassion means to her. You can click on the link above and watch all 12 minutes, but essentially what she said was: “Compassion is comprised of that capacity to see clearly into the nature of suffering…and to see that I am not separate from this suffering.”

If you find yourself struggling on this day, and perhaps on many others, don’t let the fear of your ego being tarnished hold you back from discussing it. If you can’t/won’t talk to friends, loved ones and/or family, there are other outlets. Although not everybody reading this right now will reside in Canada, we are very fortunate to have countless organizations, help lines, institutes, hospitals and peer groups that can help you with this throughout the country.

One of the finest examples of this is the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) here in Toronto. Like any other big organization, it can seem daunting at first to navigate your way through its murky waters, but I assure you the effort is well worth it. Many kind and well-trained people work there and want exactly what you do: to find solutions to tough problems that may feel like they are strangling you from the inside out.

For now, I’ll leave you with this poem and some more information at the bottom. In closing, 안녕히  계세요 (Stay in peace)…


My Urn


To the urn of which I hallow,

a stark reminder of things past,

I was once a deathly sallow,

but hoped it would not last.


Now, in years since passed,

life did somehow turn,

From burning coals and rotten ashes,

to a higher place I’m free to yearn.


P.S. Per the World Health Organization, the good people who bring you this day, and their website:

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.

The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.


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(Partial) World Book Day

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Q. Why “partial” World Book Day?

A. Because it’s only World Book Day in the UK and Ireland today, March 2, 2017.

Oh, right! I forgot that there’s the “world,” and then there’s a couple of islands in the North Atlantic. Thanks for clearing that one up, WBD!

Nonetheless and nevertheless, any excuse to read or talk about books is all goodly in my books. (Ha ha ha. Get it? Good in my…hmm…)

World Book Day comes with resolutions, right? Excellent. In that case, here’s my WBD Resolution: Let’s get more men reading.

eHarmony? Match.com? AshleyPleaseDoNotHackMyComputerMadison? No wayz. You be readin’? You be sexy. You be up down in that action? You be gettin’ hit on harder than a piñata at a birthday party for sugar-starved kidz.

Menfolk of the world, if you want to amp up your A game one more notch, here’s a piece of goodly advice: start a book club. Not only is it a swank excuse to meet hot dudes and dudettes, but you’ll expand that one muscle you can’t get to at the gym.

So ask yourself, what should you be reading right now that doesn’t include (a) anything about Donnie T.; (b) anything lewd, lascivious or luciously lucious; (c) anything related to your job/kids; or (d) anything that rhymes with “fetish”?

Me, I’m reading Michael Cunningham’s The Hours in honour of CAMH’s One Brave Night initiative for mental health.

Oh, and if you’re wondering when the (other part of the rest of the) World Book Day falls, it’s Sunday, April 23, 2017. For international information on World Book Day, you can visit www.unesco.org

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The CAMH One Brave Night Challenge

Image result for one brave nightIn the wake of Bell’s successful Let’s Talk campaign, and in support of the good folks at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – the leading institute of its kind in Canada – my book club is taking part in the CAMH One Brave Night for Mental Health™ challenge, which  just launched its 2017 campaign and runs through to Friday, April 7, 2017, in an effort to “defeat mental illness.”

Per the website:

CAMH One Brave Night for Mental Health™ is a Canada-wide challenge to share one night to inspire hope for the one in five Canadians living with mental illness in any given year.

You can participate as an individual or, like me and my Curling Was Full book club, as a team.

Check out the above link to get more details, but every dollar counts and CAMH really is doing great things for the 20% of us Great White Northerners who is/will experience mental health issues in their lifetime.

As a related aside, peruse this article on addiction and the fallacy of willpower, entitled “How To Overcome Addiction And Make Lasting Changes In Your Life,” by Benjamin P. Hardy. If you think “addiction” is strictly limited to alcohol and drugs, you’re sorely mistaken and could benefit from this thought-provoking piece.

Otherwise, I hope you take a moment to consider if you, your friends/colleagues/co-workers, and your family can contribute to a genuinely worthy cause through CAMH.

All the best in staying up as late as you can in helping make a difference to so many men, women and children out there among us.

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Mental Health and the Success of Let’s Talk

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Just over one week ago, Bell Media continued with its multi-year initiative called Let’s Talk in support of mental health. In 2017, the campaign – which now stretches across the CTV network and the entire Bell network, as well as social media sites – raised more than $6.5 million. Now in its 8th year, the campaign has raised a total of $79,919,178.55 for mental health. As a result, “institutions and organizations large and small in every region received new funding for access, care and research.” The aim is to reach $100 million by 2020. Something tells me they’re going to crush that goal.

More importantly, just as the program name indicates, people are finally talking about the issue. The purpose of talking about mental health and depression in public and with the public is to reduce/remove the stigma attached to these subjects. Although Bell leaves much to be desired when it comes to telecommunications technical support(cough, cough), I have nothing but the utmost respect for what they started in 2010 with the Let’s Talk program, and to Clara Hughes for having the strength to be the national spokesperson. For that, if nothing else, Bell Media is to be lauded and applauded.

On a related note, I recently came across a site called Natalie’s Lovely Blog, which is run by a very brave and well-spoken 19-year-old named Natalie Breuer. She writes about a number of subjects, but it was the one entitled “On Depression” that caught my eye.

While I support the Let’s Talk initiative 100%, it’s important that we don’t address mental health for just one day out of the year and then forget about it until next January. For many people, it’s a crushing condition that spans every minute of every day – 365 days a year. If you want to help, reach out, donate or merely learn more, I can think of no better place to start than the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH), an institute with a mandate and access to resources like no other I know of in Canada.

As Barbara Kingsolver, the acclaimed author of The Poisonwood Bible, wrote in The Bean Trees:

“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold – with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.”  

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World Mental Health Day

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In support of #WorldMentalHealthDay, which falls today, October 10, I’d like to point out a few things.

1) It’s encouraging to see countries finally starting to realize that mental health is not a stigma, but a bona fide disease. In Canada, for example, 20% of us Canucks will experience some form of mental illness in our lifetime.

2) Kudos to Bell Canada through its Let’s Talk campaign, and its spokesperson, Olympic champion Clara Hughes, for making this a subject of national conversation here North of 49. Since its launch in 2010, the initiative has raised more than $50 million, and plans to raise at least $100 million for mental health-related projects by 2020

3) Here in Toronto, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is playing a hugely positive role in addressing this issue and subsequently treating the disease to the best of its ability. Of course, places such as CAMH could always use more funding – especially private donations – but despite  allegations from someone south of the border whose skin tone matches his man rug, Canada’s healthcare system (and by extension its mental healthcare system) is not “catastrophic,” nor do we head en masse to the U.S. for medical treatment annually. (In a comprehensive study of 18,000 men and women that was published in the journal Health Affairs, 0.005% of Canadians received medical care in the U.S. based on a recommendation from their doctor, while a mere 0.001% did so of their own volition.)

4) There are a million and one scholarly books on the subject of mental health, yet there are also a number of down-to-earth fiction/non-fiction works on the subject, too. Goodreads.com has a pretty long list of books shelved as mental-health, with some of the top-rated ones (in alphabetical order by title) being the following: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks, Impulse (Impulse #1) by Ellen Hopkins, Equating the Equations of Insanity: A Journey from Grief to Victory by Durgesh Satpathy, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Still Alice by Lisa Genova.

(P.S. Many of these same writers are what are known as “Goodreads Authors,” meaning they often hold chat sessions with readers in real-time through goodreads.com, and sometimes even take personal emails to talk about their work(s).)


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