Together with The Royal, Veterans Affairs Canada is establishing a new Centre of Excellence to provide better access to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) expertise for health care providers across Canada.
The Centre of Excellence on PTSD and other related Mental Health Conditions will be a nexus that aims to increase Canadian expertise related to military and veteran mental health, suicide prevention, and substance use disorders, and make that knowledge available to health care providers no matter where they live in Canada.
“Our partnership with The Royal will allow us to deliver the best mental health treatments and supports for Canada’s veterans and their families,” said Minister of Veterans Affairs Seamus O’Regan at the May 7th announcement at The Royal.
“By investing in a Centre of Excellence on PTSD and other related mental health conditions, we will be able to do research specific to military mental health and educate health professionals across the country on best practices.”
Of all veterans who receive a benefit from Veterans Affairs Canada, 20 per cent receive it for a mental health condition. Of these, 73 per cent receive the benefit for PTSD.
"For almost 10 years we've walked alongside veterans and their families as they've faced the challenges of PTSD and other service-related issues. Although it's not an easy road, we know there's hope for every one of them who walks through our doors."The Royal is uniquely positioned to partner with Veterans Affairs in a Centre of Excellence because of its research capabilities and proven expertise in treating members of the military community who have developed a mental health concern as a result of their service.
“We know veterans well at The Royal,” said Dr. Raj Bhatla, The Royal’s psychiatrist-in-chief and chief of staff, who also treats patients at The Royal’s OSI Clinic. “If you want to build a Centre of Excellence, you want to do it with people who know the work on the ground.”
The Royal is home to NATO’s first research chair in military mental health, and its Brain Imaging Centre has the only PET/MRI machine in Canada dedicated to mental health research — technology that is key to unlocking the secrets of the brain, and will allow for new and better research in military mental health.
The Royal’s strong foundation in caring for the mental health needs of veterans and their families through our Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic — the only one in Canada located within a mental health care and research hospital — also establishes it as a hub of expertise in military mental health.
“For almost 10 years we've walked alongside veterans and their families as they've faced the challenges of PTSD and other service-related issues. Although it's not an easy road, we know there's hope for every one of them who walks through our doors,” said George Weber, president and CEO of The Royal.
“There is hope because not only do we have the expertise specific to operational stress injuries, but as a research hospital we can draw on research and knowledge to provide best possible mental health care to veterans. There’s hope because we’re pushing the boundaries of research every day.”
The Centre of Excellence has a research and education mandate, which complements and supports the care mandate of clinics in Veterans Affairs Canada’s OSI Clinic network.
This investment in mental health for Canada’s military and veterans represents $17.5 million over four years, and $9.2 million per year after that.