$20 million advance in Canadian mental health research

University of B.C. President Martha Piper and Premier Gordon Campbell have announced a $20 million advance in mental health research, training and policy, generated by a $10 million gift, the largest ever to mental health in Canada, from a close friend of the university who wishes to remain anonymous.

The Provincial Government’s $10 million matching contribution, subject to legislative approval, will put B.C. at the forefront of the field with the establishment of the UBC Institute of Mental Health (UBCIMH) and three endowed UBC research chairs.

“All members of our society, including those afflicted with mental illness, deserve the best care we can offer,” the donor has said.

“Mental illness has a profound impact on all of us as a province, but most of all on those who struggle to overcome it in their own lives,” said Premier Campbell. “Through the opportunity to match this generous private donation, we can draw on the exceptional research capacity of UBC to better understand the causes of mental illness, develop better treatments, and reduce its impact on families, communities, and our economy.”

“The generosity of this very special friend of UBC will give a very special impetus to research into illnesses that impact all of our families and all of our communities,” said President Piper.

Five-million-dollar endowments will help the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry recruit three leading clinician-researchers in the fields of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry and Depression, and Psychotherapy. The $5 million balance, also endowed, will create fellowships, junior faculty positions, and help communicate research and clinical findings to clinicians and mental health professionals.

The new chairs will join a team of scientists and academic clinicians already in place thanks to funding from such sources as the provincial Leading Edge Endowment Fund and the federal Canada Research Chairs program, said Department of Psychiatry Head Prof. Athanasios Zis.

“Today’s announcement,” said Zis, “creates a unique cascade of opportunities, not only in leading edge research, but also in the training of clinicians and the development of innovative treatments that will benefit all Canadians.”

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