CHU Sainte-Justine
Wednesday, October 14 2015
Press release

CHU Sainte-Justine announces groundbreaking program for early detection, treatment of mental illness in schools

The RBC Royal Bank’s exemplary $2 M donation will help detect mental illness in at-risk teens

Montréal, Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - Thanks to an exemplary two million dollar donation by the RBC Royal Bank, CHU Sainte-Justine can now lay the foundation for its mental illness detection program in schools. Based on a model that has gotten good results in a number of countries, this innovative program will be rolled out in 30 high schools in Greater Montréal. Its aim is to detect and treat mental illness in 12 to 18 year-olds in their daily environment to reduce the illness’s impact over the long term.

Mental illness in youth: a growing concern

Seventy per cent of mental illnesses in young people develop in adolescence, an already vulnerable period. The physical, mental and social changes that occur at this time can considerably impact the course of a person’s life. When a mental illness develops, the teenager’s school path, level of social acceptance and wellbeing are all affected. Thousands of young people are living in this situation even now. Unfortunately, most do not receive prompt attention and comprehensive, integrated support.

Acting early for improved detection

“Studies show that by age 12, adolescents have already started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Since the brain is still developing, these substances can cause greater neurological damage than in a fully developed adult brain. This is especially true for young people at risk of developing a mental illness. It is crucial that we detect mental illness early and create a treatment plan to fit each adolescent,” said Dr. Patricia Conrod, clinical psychologist at CHU Sainte-Justine and associate professor in the Université de Montréal’s psychiatry department. “By ensuring better care and optimal access to health services, this program will improve the young person’s development over the long term, particularly in school engagement and success, preventing drug abuse and decreasing the impact of mental illness.”

Three-pronged detection program

The project will be introduced in three phases. The first step will be to identify students presenting one of the five vulnerability factors (impulsiveness, thrill-seeking behaviour, anxiety, depression and psychotic tendencies). The treatments will then be adapted to each individual, favouring early and integrated case management in collaboration with the school’s specialists.

In the second phase, a support and intervention centre will be set up to provide information to parents and family members that will help them interact with the young person during this time. The third phase will be to create a platform of all the knowledge gathered by Quebec and Canadian mental health professionals. This valuable tool will help health professionals share their knowledge, better support families throughout the province during the treatment process and provide Canada-wide training.

“In Quebec, CHU Sainte-Justine has taken the initiative to develop this groundbreaking project, in keeping with the national initiative to continuously improve mental health services for youth. Once again, this demonstrates our institution’s leadership and recognized expertise in child and adolescent psychiatry and mental illness,” stated Dr. Fabrice Brunet, President and CEO of CHU Sainte-Justine. “The donation from RBC Royal Bank will help us significantly improve the wellbeing of children and adolescents.”

RBC Royal Bank: a partner committed to the wellbeing of youth

“RBC Royal Bank is proud to partner with CHU Sainte-Justine, an establishment that is always finding new ways to improve the health of young Quebeckers. Thanks to this project of hope, we will be able to reach young people suffering from mental illness. RBC Royal Bank considers this financial contribution an investment in our future, by improving the communities we serve,” said Martin Thibodeau, President, RBC Royal Bank, Quebec branch.

“We are extremely pleased to have a valuable partner like RBC Royal Bank, a vital player in this pan-Canadian initiative,” stated Maud Cohen, President and CEO of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation. “Thanks to this generous gift, which will be used in our Healing More Better campaign, the teams at CHU Sainte-Justine will be able to provide adolescents suffering from mental illness, and their families, the best support and guidance possible.”

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*PicturES description

From left to right : Mr Pierre Boivin O.C., CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation, Mrs Maud Cohen, CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation, Dr. Christine Colin, CHU Sainte-Justine, Hon. Michael M Fortier CP, CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation, Dr. Patricia Conrod, CHU Sainte-Justine, Mr Martin Thibodeau, RBC Royal Bank, Mrs Léa Noirhomme and Mrs Geneviève Allard

About CHU Sainte-Justine

The Sainte-Justine university hospital centre (CHU Sainte-Justine) is the largest mother-child centre in Canada and the second largest pediatric hospital in North America. A member of the Université de Montréal extended network of excellence in health (RUIS), Sainte-Justine has 5,664 employees, including 1,578 nurses and nursing assistants; 1,117 other healthcare professionals; 502 physicians, dentists and pharmacists; 822 residents; and more than 200 researchers, 300 volunteers and 3,400 interns and students in a wide range of disciplines. Sainte-Justine has 484 beds, including 35 at the Centre de réadaptation Marie Enfant, the only exclusively pediatric rehabilitation centre in Quebec. The World Health Organization has recognized CHU Sainte-Justine as a "health promoting hospital".

About the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation

The Foundation's mission is to engage the community and support CHU Sainte-Justine in its commitment to developing better ways to heal more children in Quebec and provide them with one of the highest levels of healthcare in the world.

CHU Sainte-Justine

Mélanie Dallaire
Senior Advisor, Media Relations
CHU Sainte-Justine
514 345-7707 (direct line)
514 415-5727 (media pager)

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Updated on 10/29/2015
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