Dr. Amy Cheung leading research to give doctors clinical tools that will help them spot teen depression and prevent teen suicide
TORONTO, Jan. 22, 2014 /CNW/ - Bell Let's Talk and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre today announced a new partnership in support of youth mental health - the $1 million Bell Canada Chair in Adolescent Mood & Anxiety Disorders.
Dr. Amy Cheung, a prominent youth psychiatrist and researcher at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, has been named the inaugural Chair, leading research that will give doctors the necessary tools to better assess a teen's mental health.
"Bell Let's Talk is pleased to build on Bell's longstanding partnership with Sunnybrook in support of youth mental health. Dr. Cheung will lead important research to improve clinical diagnosis and care for vulnerable teens dealing with mental health issues," said Mary Deacon, Chair of the Bell Let's Talk initiative.
One of only a handful of child psychiatry researchers in the country, Dr. Cheung is well-positioned to lead the research supported by the Bell Canada Chair. Ultimately, the insights gained will help educate and empower family physicians to diagnose depression sooner, in the hope of preventing self-harm.
"Research suggests that 30 per cent of teens in primary care waiting rooms have symptoms of depression - but there is a gap between the number of teens who suffer from a mental illness and the number who are identified," says Dr. Cheung.
And, because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, a depressed teenager may suffer in silence for a year or longer and only visit the doctor when they feel physical symptoms. Even then, they may not be diagnosed. If doctors can identify the depression earlier, they can better help teenage patients and mitigate the risk of worsening illness and even suicide.
Yet making mental health check-ups a standard part of primary health care isn't as simple as it sounds. Family physicians may not know the best questions to ask a teen. If they do suspect depression, they may not know what services are most appropriate.
"Primary care clinicians and pediatricians often feel inadequately trained and supported in managing adolescent depression. In the Greater Toronto Area, there is a complex and disconnected web of mental health services for youth. Even the experts can have a hard time navigating it," says Dr. Cheung.
Improving access to health care for vulnerable teens
Dr. Cheung recently completed a pilot project studying a new clinical tool to help primary care doctors perform mental health check-ups for teens visiting them for any reason - ranging from headaches to rashes to an upset stomach. With the support of Bell Let's Talk, she will be evaluating this tool as part of a larger study to determine its value in enabling physicians and pediatricians to identify depression earlier.
"Sunnybrook's young patients with mood disorders will benefit greatly from Bell's visionary support and partnership. At Sunnybrook, we are committed to providing the best care possible for youth with mood and anxiety disorders, and our research in this area helps shape best practices across the country," said Dr. Barry McLellan, President & CEO, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
Bell Let's Talk Day is January 28
The Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative is a national charitable program that promotes mental health across Canada with significant funding for community care, research, and workplace best practices, and fights the stigma around mental illness with high-profile events like Bell Let's Talk Day. Set for January 28, 2014, the fourth annual Bell Let's Talk Day invites Canadians to join the conversation and help end the stigma around mental illness.
On Bell Let's Talk Day, Bell donates 5 cents for every text, mobile call, and long distance call made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers, every tweet using #BellLetsTalk, and every Facebook share of the Bell Let's Talk Day image. Bell's donations are made at no extra charge to Bell Let's Talk Day participants, though normal long distance or text charges, if any, apply.
To date, Bell has already committed $62,043,289.30 to Canadian mental health, based on its original $50 million commitment and participation in Bell Let's Talk Day since 2011.
To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is inventing the future of health care for the 1.2 million patients the hospital cares for each year through the dedication of its more than 10,000 staff and volunteers. An internationally recognized leader in research and education and a full affiliation with the University of Toronto distinguishes Sunnybrook as one of Canada's premier academic health sciences centres. Sunnybrook specializes in caring for high-risk pregnancies, critically-ill newborns and adults, offering specialized rehabilitation and treating and preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological and psychiatric disorders, orthopaedic and arthritic conditions and traumatic injuries. The Hospital also has a unique and national leading program for the care of Canada's war veterans. For more information about how Sunnybrook is inventing the future of health care please visit us online at www.sunnybrook.ca.
Youth psychiatry at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
As Canada's leading site for youth mental health, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre houses Canada's largest Youth Psychiatry Division and oversees North America's largest mood and anxiety disorders clinic for adolescents. Sunnybrook's Division of Youth Psychiatry offers state-of-the-art clinical care while leading innovative research to improve treatment options and health outcomes for young people with complex cases of mood and anxiety disorders. Clinically, the division serves young people between 14 and 18 years of age, both as short/medium-term inpatients and/or as outpatients. As a provincial resource for adolescent mental health, the division accepts referrals from physicians and institutions located anywhere in the province. Based at Sunnybrook's Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, Dr. Amy Cheung is also an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
Youth mental health
Often invisible, mental illness is one of the most pervasive health issues in the country with far-reaching consequences for every Canadian - 1 in 5 people will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their lives, and most will be reluctant to talk to a co-worker, friend or family member about their struggle. Because of the stigma around mental illness, just one third of those who struggle will seek treatment.
SOURCE Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre