New ‘beautiful and calming’ mental health centre opens in Scarborough

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A new mental health centre opened in Scarborough on Thursday and officials say it will benefit tens of thousands of people.

The Scarborough Health Network Community Mental Health Centre, on Eglinton Avenue E., west of Warden Avenue, will bring together all adult outpatient mental health services into one central location, according to Alicia Vandermeer, president and CEO of the Scarborough Health Network Foundation.

Vandermeer described the space as “beautiful and calming,” and said its capital budget was funded entirely by donors.

“You are helping write a new story for Scarborough and we are celebrating an amazing chapter today thanks to all of you,” Vandermeer said at the centre’s grand opening.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who also spoke at the opening, said the centre is a welcome addition to Scarborough.

“It’s about time that the 630,000 people that live here are actually getting the attention,” Ford said. “The new facility will be a critical part of our health care system here in Scarborough for generations to come.”

Centre built around ‘no wrong door’ model of care

In a news release, the Scarborough Health Network (SHN) said the centre has been built around the network’s “no wrong door” model of care and patients referred to the centre will be matched to the appropriate treatment and care team for their mental health challenges.

“SHN sees over 10,000 referrals to their outpatient mental health programs, and now they will all be under one roof to remove barriers to care and reduce stigma,” the network said in the release.

Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones said in an interview after the opening that provincial government funding will cover the centre’s operating budget.

“Obviously, the provincial government will be there for the operating dollars, but that spark started with individuals who said we need to make our community safer, we need to make our community stronger, and one of the ways to do it is with this centre,” Jones said.

Jones said the province is willing to listen to proposals from other regions that may be looking to improve public health services.

SHN Community Mental Health Centre
The Scarborough Health Network Community Mental Health Centre is pictured here. Scarborough Health Network says the centre has been built around the network’s ‘no wrong door’ model of care and patients referred to the centre will be matched to the appropriate treatment and care team for their mental health challenges. (CBC)

Dr. Ilan Fischler, chief of psychiatry and medical director of the mental health and addiction program at SHN, said the centre replaces Scarborough’s old and outdated way of treating mental health. 

“We used to have a lot of small mental health centres that were less than ideal spaces. They were not well looked after, they weren’t the safest places to go to. They weren’t that accessible,” Fischler said.

Fischler said the focus of the new centre is solely on treating mental health issues, providing patients with everything they need in one place. 

“Here, they can receive psychiatric care. They can get medications. We’re going to have a pharmacy dispensary for that. They can get group therapy, they can get individual therapy here. It’s all located in one place.”

Centre is 1st project of fundraising campaign

Fischler said the money needed to create the space came directly from the community. The centre is the first project as part of the “Love, Scarborough” fundraising campaign.

“This was 100 per cent donor funded,” he said.

WATCH: CBC’s Greg Ross reports on centre’s opening: 

Scarborough Health Network opens new community mental health centre

A new mental health centre officially opened Thursday in Scarborough. Organizers say it will benefit tens of thousands of people in the area dealing with mental health issues. As CBC’s Greg Ross tells us, 100 per cent of the funding came from donors.

SHN said patients will have access to group and one-to-one counselling and psychiatry and access to the following services: RBC Youth Mental Well-being Clinic; Bell Seniors’ Mental Health Clinic; the Slaight Family Foundation Cultural Psychiatry Clinic; and Ray Gupta and Family Mood and Anxiety Clinic. 

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