Historical donation from The Molson Foundation supports youth mental health

Montreal, June 7, 2023 – The transformative gift of $3M from The Molson Foundation is the largest gift in the history of the Douglas Foundation.

Photo credit: Arianne Bergeron

This recent investment is part of a long-standing partnership that supports our activities. It will enable Dr. Lena Palaniyappan, Inaugural Director, and his team at the Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health to evaluate and measure an integrated model of care for youth aged under 25 that will influence practices within the healthcare system. This evaluation process will strengthen the link between first access to care and specialized provisions for young people who suffer from mental health problems.

Youth with more serious problems continue to face significant barriers in receiving appropriate help at the right time. “Prevention starts with early identification of these issues in both help-seeking youth and in families who are not actively seeking healthcare but face the same challenges. By enhancing and streamlining pathways to care from primary to tertiary level, we can maximize the effectiveness of available interventions and improve long-term outcomes,” says Dr. Palaniyappan.

Dr. Gustavo Turecki, Scientific Director of the Douglas Research Centre and Chief of Psychiatry, CIUSSS Montreal West Island, also agrees. “The Molson Foundation’s major contribution is accelerating the paradigm shift initiated by our specialists in recent years. Testing this new model of care will make it possible to intervene earlier with youth in order to lead them on the path to long-term recovery,” Dr. Turecki explains.

The first phase of this important project made possible by The Molson Foundation’s generosity is to develop a research-informed pathway between primary care providers (CLSC and Aire Ouverte) and secondary care providers. This will generate the insight required to identify early on those youth with emerging social and educational needs and match mental health resources to meet their current situation.

More specifically, the goal will be to reduce delays in provision of personalized care by better equipping first contact teams. Recruiting targeted personnel (e.g., research assistants, coordinators) will enhance the expertise of existing teams in addition to offering better specialized training in evaluation. Research Centre peer workers with mobility across multiple levels of care provision will be able to assist youth in navigating the healthcare system and ensure continuity of care to facilitate the transition to more specialized treatments.

Another important pillar in the success of this new model of care is to establish an evidence-based evaluation system to begin right at the first contact with youth in need. The evaluation protocol will be built in collaboration with youth councils and families and will provide a comprehensive battery for clinicians and researchers to identify strengths as well as emerging needs at the family level.

The Graham Boeckh Foundation (GBF), which has been dedicated to advancing Integrated Youth Services across the country for ten years, will help steer the project. “I am delighted to have been able to provide advice to The Molson Foundation and the Douglas Research Institute on this important grant”, said Ian Boeckh, President, GBF. “The grant will strengthen and complement the Integrated Youth Services Movement which is scaling rapidly across the country including in Quebec with Aire Ouverte.”

Laura Fish, President and CEO of the Douglas Foundation, commends The Molson Foundation’s long-term commitment to the Douglas, and notes that in supporting science to improve youth mental health:

“This new support is critical for two reasons – it helps to evaluate an innovative youth mental health care pathway that builds hope for all young Canadians and signals to the philanthropic community the importance of supporting research on mental health at the Douglas Institute, to accelerate the discovery of tangible solutions that influence best practices in the healthcare system,” she concludes.