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Minister of Health and Long-Term Care helps ICES launch Mental Health and Addictions Research Program


The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) is pleased to announce the launch of the Mental Health and Addictions (MH&A) Research Program with the help of the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, this afternoon at Queen’s Park.

The new Mental Health and Addictions Research Program will help to improve the effectiveness, quality, equity and efficiency of mental health and addiction services in Ontario – resulting in better mental health and well-being for Ontarians. According to the World Health Organization, mental health and addictions have now surpassed all other causes as the highest in global disease burden – which is why this new research program is so important,” said Minister Matthews.

The program will contribute to new knowledge generation and produce policy-relevant research in the area of mental health and addictions services and population-based research. The program has 12 well-trained and experienced ICES scientists and numerous trainees mentored by MH&A program scientists. Engagement spans Ontario, including Toronto (University of Toronto), Hamilton (McMaster University) and Kingston (Queens University).

This program will pull together a network of existing mental health scientists who are focused on research that strives to improve the quality of mental healthcare and, ultimately, the quality of life of individuals suffering from mental health and addictions in this province,” says Dr. Paul Kurdyak, who is the program lead, and also a scientist at ICES and CAMH.

The program will focus on access to, delivery, and cost of mental health and addiction services, psychiatric/medical comorbidity, child and adolescent mental health, reproductive mental health, social determinants of mental health, and addictions. In each of these areas, the researchers will take a lifespan or developmental approach, recognizing the importance of transitions (e.g., adolescence to adulthood), continuities and change in the experience of mental health and addiction problems (etiology, chronic course of illness), and the influence of developmental period on the interface between individuals with these problems and care provision (micro-, meso- and macro levels).

The MH&A Program has a primary partnership with the MOHLTC; however, research on mental health services is multi-sectoral. Consequently, the MH&A Program has partnerships with a number of other Ministries, including Child and Youth Services, Education, and Community and Social Services.

The scientists either have affiliations with or have collaborated with a large number of academic institutions. Scientists engaged in mental health and addictions research are also affiliated with the following academic institutions: Women’s College Hospital, Women’s College Research Institute, McMaster University, Hospital for Sick Kids, London Health Sciences Centre, Hamilton Health Sciences, St Joseph’s Hospital (Hamilton), University Health Network, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital, Kingston General Hospital, and Ottawa Hospital.

Since the inauguration of the MH&A Initiative, approximately 72 projects related to mental health and addictions have been undertaken, and over $10.8 Million in provincial and national funding has been obtained for the program of research. Some of the findings from these projects include:

  • The overall burden for selected mental illnesses and addictions was more than 1.5 times as much as all cancers and more than seven times as much as all infectious diseases.
  • Five conditions had the highest burden: depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol use disorders, social phobia, and schizophrenia.
  • Depression had the highest overall burden, accounting for a third of the total burden.
  • Alcohol use disorders accounted for 88 per cent of all deaths attributed to mental illness and addictions and 91 per cent of years lost due to early death.
  • In Ontario, new cases of mental illnesses and addictions in an average year led to more than 600,000 future health-adjusted life years lost.
  • At first presentation for myocardial infarction, individuals with schizophrenia are 50 per cent more likely to die within 30 days of hospital discharge, but 50 per cent less likely to receive life-saving cardiac procedures compared to Ontario residents without a mental illness.
  • Women living in urban areas are at higher risk for postpartum depression, and it appears that lack of social support is part of the reason for the increased risk.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 individuals receiving methadone for opioid dependence are also being prescribed large quantities of non-methadone opioids.

Over the next 5 years, the goal of the MH&A Research Program is to advance a unique and innovative program of research in population mental health and mental health services that elevates the quality of knowledge required to advocate for, and improve the lives and health of Canadians and all individuals with mental health and addictions issues.

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of healthcare issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting healthcare needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.

For the latest ICES news, follow us on Twitter: @ICESOntario


Deborah Creatura
Communications, ICES
[email protected]
(o) 416-480-4780