Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

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Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Camh logo purple.png
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Toronto, April 2005).jpg
CAMH Russell Street site
Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Care system Public Medicare (Canada) (OHIP)
Hospital type Addictions and Mental Health
Affiliated university University of Toronto
Emergency department Yes
Founded 1998
Website http://www.camh.ca/
Lists Hospitals in Canada

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is a consortium of mental health clinics at several sites in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Its name in French is Centre de toxicomanie et de santé mentale. (The acronym CAMH is most commonly pronounced "Cam-H".)

Among the focuses of the organization are the assessment and treatment of schizophrenia, mood & anxiety disorders, personality disorders and a clinic for gender identity disorder in children There is also a focus on addictions to alcohol, drugs, and problem gambling at the former ARF site. CAMH also has a Law and Mental Health Programme (forensic psychiatry and forensic psychology) and is a major research centre.

CAMH is a teaching hospital with central facilities located in Toronto and 10 community locations throughout the province of Ontario. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto and is a Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.

In October 2008, CAMH was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's newsmagazine. Later that month, CAMH was also named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers, which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper.[1] CAMH was the recipient of the Greater Toronto Top Employer Award in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and in 2010 won as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers.


CAMH was formed in 1998 as a result of the directed merger of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, the Addiction Research Foundation, the Donwood Institute and Queen Street Mental Health Centre.[2]

Clarke Institute of Psychiatry[edit]

CAMH College Street site
Queen Street Asylum for the Insane, 1910

The hospital was founded in 1966 and named the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, after Charles Kirk Clarke, a pioneer in mental health in Canada.

The former Clarke Institute building is now referred to as the College St. site of CAMH.

Addiction Research Foundation[edit]

The Addiction Research Foundation (ARF), then named the Alcoholism Research Foundation was founded in 1949, when H. David Archibald, who had studied at the School of Alcohol Studies at Yale University, was hired by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. His mandate was to determine the scope of alcoholism in Ontario. He was named executive director when ARF opened and remained in that post until 1976. Focusing initially on outpatient treatment, their first facility was Brookside Hospital in 1951, expanding to branch offices and new locations in 1954, the same year they set up in-house research. In 1961, formally renamed the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario, ARF expanded its mission to include drugs. In 1971, they expanded to a clinical teaching hospital called the Clinical Research and Treatment Institute. In 1978 ARF opened the School for Addiction Studies and expanded their international role in policy development and research. Following provincial hospital restructuring in the 1990s, ARF was folded in 1998 into CAMH.[3]

Donwood Institute[edit]

Founded by Dr. R. Gordon Bell in 1967,[4] it had 47 beds and a 4-month waiting list in the 1980s. Focusing on substance abuse, boasted a 65% recovery rate for general population and an 85% recovery rate for physicians.[5]

Queen Street Mental Health Centre[edit]

This facility stands on what was once called the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, which opened on January 26, 1850. The facility had a series of names including the Toronto Lunatic Asylum and 999 Queen Street West.[6]

Reforms were made after a series of deaths at the Queen Street Mental Health Centre and newspaper accounts of involuntary drug treatment, electroshock therapy and prison-like conditions.[7][8]

CAMH redevelopment[edit]

CAMH has been undergoing a three phase redevelopment plan which aims to accomplish four goals: 1) Deliver a new model of care and provide a healthy environment that promotes recovery; 2) Bring together the best research, clinical, education, health promotion, and policy experts in one place to change the future of mental health and addictions; 3) Revitalize the City of Toronto by opening up their site and by creating an inclusive new nine-block neighbourhood that benefits all and, 4) Change attitudes by breaking down barriers to eliminate the stigma of mental health.[9]

Controversy over reparative therapy for transgender children[edit]

Kenneth Zucker, the Psychologist-in-Chief and Head of the Gender Identity Service in the Child, Youth, and Family Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health,[10] has since the mid-1970s treated about 500 preadolescent gender-variant children to make them accept the gender identity they are assigned at birth until they are at an age he believes they may determine their own gender identity.[11] For children assigned as males at birth, Zucker asks parents to take away toys associated with females and instruct the child not to play with or draw pictures of girls.[12] Psychologist Darryl Hill wrote that Zucker and Bradley believed that reparative treatments can reduce rejection by enabling gender non-conforming children to mix with children of the same sex, reducing the possibility of adult gender dysphoria.[13]

The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association believes "'reparative' therapy that seeks to reverse sexual orientation or gender identification"[14] is an "extreme example" of bias that "may lead to increased self-hatred and mental health problems."[15] Psychiatrist Simon Pickstone-Taylor has cited similarities between Zucker's therapeutic intervention and reparative therapy for homosexuals.[16] Zucker responded that prevention of homosexuality was never a goal in their treatments and cite a lack of empirical evidence for the most effective approach.[17] Journalist Marc Lostracco described Zucker's therapy as "well-meaning" but "problematic and harsh."[18]

Zucker's treatment protocol came under further scrutiny in March 2015 when Cheri DiNovo MPP tabled a private member's bill to ban conversion therapies to both homosexual and transgender for minors. Zucker's gender identity clinic stopped accepting new patients the same month, awaiting the result of an ongoing review of the practice. CAMH director Kwame McKenzie said that Zucker's treatments were against the centre's guidelines, but that there exist two groups of thinking on such therapy for children under 11 among professionals.[19][20] The review was expected to take six months.[21]


  1. ^ "Reasons for Selection, 2009 Canada's Top 100 Employers Competition". 
  2. ^ Scrivener, Leslie (February 25, 2007). Breakout at the asylum. Toronto Star
  3. ^ Blocker JS, Fahey DM, Tyrrell IR. Alcohol and temperance in modern history: an international encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO 2003. ISBN 1-57607-833-7 pp. 3–4.
  4. ^ "Dr. Bell's Legacy". 
  5. ^ Shilliday, Greg (May 15, 1983). The Donwood Institute: resort of last resort. Can Med Assoc J. 1983 May 15; 128(10): 1220–1221.
  6. ^ Everett, Barbara (2000). A Fragile Revolution: Consumers and Psychiatric Survivors Confront the Power of the Mental Health System. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ISBN 0-88920-342-3
  7. ^ Goar, Carol (June 13, 2008). Mental health progress and pain.Toronto Star
  8. ^ (January 1, 2002). No straitjacket required: a growing and vocal group of psychiatric survivors argues that diagnosing mental disorders is just a way to stifle social dissent ... This Magazine
  9. ^ http://www.camh.net/News_events/Redeveloping_the_Queen_Street_site/index.html
  10. ^ "Dr. Kenneth Zucker". Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  11. ^ Brown, Patricia Leigh (December 2, 2006). "Supporting Boys or Girls When the Line Isn’t Clear". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Spiegel, Alix (May 7, 2008). "Two families grapple with sons' gender preferences". All Things Considered (National Public Radio). 
  13. ^ Hill D.B., Rozanski C., Carfagnini J., Willoughby B. (2006). "Gender Identity Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence: A Critical Inquiry". In Karasic D, Drescher J. Sexual and Gender Diagnoses of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM): A Reevaluation. Haworth Press. pp. 7–34. ISBN 0-7890-3214-7. 
  14. ^ Dean, Laura; et al. (2000). "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health: Findings and concerns". Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association 4 (3): 102–151. 
  15. ^ Ryan, C, Bradford, J & Honnold, J. (1999). "Social workers' and counselors' knowledge and understanding of lesbians". Journal of Lesbian and Gay Social Services 9 (4): 1–26. 
  16. ^ Pickstone-Taylor, Simon D. (2003). "Children with gender nonconformity". Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 42 (3): 266. 
  17. ^ Bradley, Susan J.; Zucker, Kenneth J. (2003). "Children With Gender Nonconformity: Drs. Bradley and Zucker reply". Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 42 (3): 266–268. doi:10.1097/00004583-200303000-00004. 
  18. ^ Lostracco, Marc (May 9, 2008). "But for today I am a boy". Torontoist. 
  19. ^ Cross, Jessica Smith (March 18, 2015). "Outcry prompts CAMH to review its controversial treatment of trans youth". Metro (Metro International). Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  20. ^ Paterson, Tara (21 February 2015). "As trans issues become mainstream, question of how to address variant gender expression comes to forefront". National Post. 
  21. ^ "Gender Identity Service Review Announced". CAMH.ca. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°38′40″N 79°25′03″W / 43.64455°N 79.41761°W / 43.64455; -79.41761