CAMH home to first global centre dedicated to child and youth depression

TORONTO – Today the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada launched the Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression. Supported by a $15-million gift from The Peter Cundill Foundation, the new centre will lead a global effort to reduce the burden of depression in the first two decades of life.

Depression is a leading cause of disease and disability worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, 350 million people live with depression. For 70 per cent of these people, illness starts in early adolescence.

“Until recently, the medical field has been slow to recognize that depression can develop in early childhood,” says Dr. Peter Szatmari, Chief of CAMH’s Child, Youth and Family Program and head of the new Cundill Centre. “Many of the available treatment options were not developed for young people, and while they work for some, for too many they do not. This Centre will help mobilize an international network of experts and focus efforts on developing better solutions and prevention options for this vulnerable population.”

The goal of the Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression is to accelerate the pace of research, care and knowledge exchange for better care for children and youth with depression. While some young people do respond well to existing treatments, many do not achieve optimal, lasting recovery. “Rethinking the kind of treatments available and developing novel approaches will help young people recover more fully from depression, saving years of damage and disability,” says Dr. Szatmari.

“This Centre is a fitting tribute to a visionary man committed to having a global impact,” says Jennifer Bingham, Chair of The Peter Cundill Foundation. “Peter Cundill approached every problem with unrelenting energy, profound curiosity and spirited optimism. In CAMH, we have found a partner who demonstrates that same spirit and deep commitment to working together to create this unique and global effort to address the problem of child and youth depression.”

“Peter Cundill was passionate about supporting youth, often helping them to fulfill their educational and athletic goals. Through the Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression at CAMH, Peter will continue to help young people around the world live healthier, more productive lives,” said David Feather, Vice-Chair of The Peter Cundill Foundation and President & CEO of Russell Investments Canada.  

Depression is a major risk factor for suicide and, in Canada, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth and young adults. Today, along with announcing the Cundill Centre, CAMH is simultaneously launching a powerful awareness and fundraising campaign focused on increasing efforts to prevent suicide. The campaign will share the stories of real people who have lost family members to suicide with the aim of inspiring Canadians to join in CAMH’s treatment and prevention efforts.

“CAMH continues to demonstrate its commitment to making a difference in the lives of people living with mental health issues”, says Dan O’Shaughnessy, whose brother died by suicide in 2003. “With the addition of the Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression and this important campaign, this is the most significant effort being made to increase the efforts to prevent suicide in Canada today. If we give hope to one youth, it will be worth it.”

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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, home to the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit or follow @CAMHnews on Twitter.

Media Contact:
Kate Richards
Media Relations
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
(416) 595-6015