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CAMH and Women's College Hospital to collaborate to advance women's mental health care

Canada NewsWire

A theme of National Mental Health Week, May 5 -10, is women's mental health.

TORONTO, May 7, 2014 /CNW/ - With women twice as likely to experience depression and more likely to experience other mood and anxiety disorders than men, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Women's College Hospital will explore opportunities to collaborate to improve care for women affected by mental illness.

Dr. Valerie Taylor, recently appointed as Chief of General and Health System Psychiatry at CAMH, and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Women's College Hospital, sees the potential for collaboration to advance health system solutions in the area of women's mental health.

"There is a lot of opportunity to work together to advance the care, research in education in women's mental health," said Dr. Taylor.

One key area of focus for Dr. Taylor is to improve access to trauma-informed care. Women and girls are more likely to suffer domestic violence and abuse-- forms of trauma that can contribute to mental health issues.

"Both CAMH and Women's College Hospital currently have excellent programs for women who have experienced trauma, but the demand is very high and we need to look at how we can rework the system to better address women's mental health," says Dr. Taylor. "One way to do that is to work more closely with community-based groups."

Starting in 2009, experts from several community agencies and from CAMH and Women's College Hospital came together to establish a network focused on women's mental health services. The Women's Mental Health and Addiction Network identifies existing gaps in women's mental health care and pinpoints opportunities for collaboration. The need for greater access to trauma-informed services is an ongoing challenge.

"We work with a wide range of women from different age groups and backgrounds," says Sheryl Lindsay, Executive Director of Sistering, and Co-Chair of the Women's Mental Health and Addiction Network. Sistering is a community-based organization dedicated to supporting homeless, under- housed and low-income women in Toronto. "We see that a common theme for many women is some kind of experience with violence and trauma in their lifetime. We need to see more resources focused in this way."

Women cope with the pain of trauma in different ways. For example, they may develop an eating disorder, misuse alcohol or other drugs, or harm themselves in an effort to cope. These behaviours can lead to women feeling more isolated and depressed, and can increase anxiety and sleeping problems.

"While trauma is not the only factor for women who experience mental illness, it is far more widespread than many people recognize," says Dr. Taylor. "We need to look at how we can come together to provide better care for women and appreciate that we are more than the sum of our parts."

About the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

About CAMH

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit

About Women's College Hospital

Women's College Hospital ( is advancing the health of women and improving healthcare options for all by delivering innovative models of ambulatory care. Fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, the hospital is Canada's leading academic, ambulatory hospital and a world leader in women's health. With more than 800 physicians, nurses and health professionals, the hospital offers a range of specialized clinics and programs that are bridging the gaps in the health system. Women's College Hospital is helping to keep people out of hospital by being at the forefront of cutting-edge research, diagnosis and treatment that will help prevent illness and enable patients to manage their health conditions. This healthcare enables Canadians to live healthier, more independent lives. At the Women's College Research Institute, scientists combine science and patient care to develop innovative solutions to today's greatest health challenges.

SOURCE Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

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