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About Sickkids
About SickKids

November 29, 2012

SickKids, CAMH and U of T collaborate to appoint new child and youth mental health leader

With more than 1.2 million children and youth in Canada affected by mental illness each year—and a youth suicide rate amongst the highest in the industrialized world— bold and collaborative leadership is required. On Nov.26 SickKids, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and University of Toronto announced that Dr. Peter Szatmari was appointed to a newly-created, combined position responsible for developing and leading an integrated Child and Youth Mental Health program.

"SickKids, CAMH and U of T form a remarkable health science powerhouse with a shared commitment to improving child and youth mental health—a field that is struggling to meet the growing needs of our young people and their families," Szatmari said today. "I am honoured to have been selected to fill this exciting new position."

The onset of symptoms of mental illlnesses occur most often before the age of 18. "If mental illness is recognized and treated in childhood or adolescence, the vast majority of kids who receive care will return to their regular activities. Yet fewer than one in four young people currently get the help they need," said Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and CEO of CAMH.  "We are committed to changing that."

The SickKids/CAMH/U of T collaborative program will focus on three key areas: integrating clinical care so that young people receive enhanced evidence-based treatments; training future psychiatrists and mental health practitioners to help fill the gaps in service; and developing a specialized research program to discover answers to child and youth mental illness and addictions. Szatmari will fill the combined position of Chief, Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative at the two hospitals, as well as Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Toronto, starting March 1, 2013.

"We conducted an international search to find an academic child and youth psychiatrist with the exceptional leadership skills, research and clinical expertise, plus the proven ability to successfully foster collaboration in order to realize our high-impact vision," said Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO of SickKids.

An award-winning expert in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Szatmari is currently Head of the Division of Child Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, where he holds the Chedoke Health Chair in Child Psychiatry. A researcher, clinician, author and founding member of a national network of parents, clinicians, policy makers and scientists dedicated to research in early intervention in autism - Szatmari is part of an international collaboration investigating the genetics of autism and a Canadian multi-site study of pre-schoolers with ASD to identify factors that contribute to positive outcomes.
"Today, children's mental health is being recognized as the issue of our time. With this collaboration under the leadership of Dr. Szatmari, we are poised to make significant advancements," said Dr. Trevor Young, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.  "This means hope for our children, and a better future for us all."