Your donations advanced mental health care

Here are just a few of the ways your support improved access and treatment to enhance mental health care for all

The right kind of treatment

Lori paddling in a kayak
Lori, a lover of travel and adventure, has found hope again thanks to TMS, a specialized treatment funded by donor support.

Two years ago, Lori Linton felt she was running out of options. Struggling with a series of heartbreaking family and health challenges, her burdens were crippling — mentally and emotionally.

Lori was prescribed various medications for her mental health, but little changed. She was dealing with treatment resistant depression (TRD) — when patients don’t respond to any kind of treatment, even after trying multiple medications and therapies.

Referred to Parkwood Institute’s Mental Health Care Building, Lori benefitted from a new way to assess TRD and physicians determined she was an ideal candidate for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) — a non-invasive procedure that uses electric stimulation to regulate neural activity in the brain. Within weeks, the cloud of depression she had been living with lifted.

An estimated 10% of individuals with depression don’t respond to traditional therapies and medications, and 30% only partially respond, says psychiatrist Dr. Viraj Mehta, Site Chief of St. Joseph’s Mental Health Care Program, which has become a leader in TRD assessment. It’s also crucial to gather a holistic view of each patient’s unique condition using specially-designed questionnaires, as well as physical and cognitive assessments says Dr. Mehta.

Your support helps people like Lori benefit from ongoing research into assessing and treating TRD, as well as life-giving equipment like the TMS machine.

“By the time the treatment was done, I was so much better. I felt as good as I did when I was younger,” says Lori.

The path forward

Man in wheelchair with service dog
Phil, with his trusty service dog Rutger, was able to connect to the mental health care he needed thanks to an online therapy website supported by donors.

After a long battle with a disease that left him with a severe spinal cord injury (SCI), Phil Raney remained optimistic, paying close attention to his health and living life to the fullest in his power wheelchair—with his wonderful wife Janna and Rutger the service dog by his side.

But despite his diligence and positive attitude, after going through five major spinal surgeries, Phil was left with constant pain and no clear direction on next steps for his physical and mental wellbeing.

One in three people in Ontario live with at least one major chronic health condition. People with physical symptoms of chronic diseases, chronic pain and the effects of injury are also more likely to develop psychological symptoms—feelings of anxiety, distress and depression.

Searching for resources online, Phil found a link to a research study out of Parkwood Institute, enabling the Brantford native to feel hope again.

Your support made it possible for Lawson scientist Dr. Swati Mehta to pilot the use of an online cognitive behavioral therapy website to support the mental health of people living with chronic disease, SCI and neurological conditions, such as stroke. The online therapy—which combines mindfulness-based pain management and practical life applications guided by a therapist—helps patients manage their unique mental health needs. 

Dr. Swati Mehta typing on a keyboard
Dr. Swati Mehta, Lawson scientist, is studying the value of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) delivered online to help serve the unique needs of people living with SCI, chronic disease and neurological disease.

Responding to youth mental health needs

In London and region, the kids are not alright. Seventy per cent of mental health issues emerge in adolescence (age 14 and up), but only 25 per cent of young people get the care they need. Your support initiated two projects at St. Joseph’s through Lawson that are looking at innovative ways to improve youth mental health and access to care.

The Mental Health INcubator for Disruptive Solutions (MINDS), led by MINDS Director Dr. Arlene MacDougall and a team of youth researchers, created new solutions that are being put into action to help young people access mental health supports. These solutions — many of which came from the youth researchers’ own experiences — includes a transportation service that safely takes youth in crisis from rural areas into London for mental health care.

SMART Technologies for Youth—a research pilot led by Lawson Assistant Scientific Director Dr. Cheryl Forchuk — equipped young people with smartphones and a unique self-monitoring app to help them stay connected to their care providers and track their health. The study is already seeing positive results, including being able to remind participants of their appointments and prompting them to take their medication.

a group of people gathered around two laptop computers
Team members from MINDS of London Middlesex. From left, Dr. Arlene MacDougall (seated), Nicole Snake, Lily Yosieph (seated), Alec Cook, Melissa Taylor-Gates (seated), Joseph Adu, Richard Booth (seated) and James Madden (seated).
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