Today is a landmark day for the Douglas Hospital. Mr. Henri-François Gautrin, Minister of Government Services and MNA for Verdun, on behalf of the Minister of Health and Social Services, Mr. Philippe Couillard, officially declared the Douglas a "University Institute in Mental Health" — a special designation awarded to health organizations that are recognized throughout Quebec as having expertise in a specific field, and a multifaceted mission: to provide care, conduct research, teach, and evaluate technology.
"Being designated as a university institute is big news for the Douglas," says Claudette Allard, president of the Douglas Hospital Board of Directors. "In addition to recognizing our expertise in mental health care, it acknowledges the quality of our Research Centre and its international influence, and the excellence of our teaching."
This designation confirms the leadership role the Douglas plays within the McGill University Integrated Health Network (McGill-RUIS) in the area of mental health as well as in implementing the 2006-2010 Mental Health Action Plan of the Ministry of Health and Social Services. As a University Institute, the Douglas has a mandate to develop exceptional mental health programs and to share them with its 1st and 2nd line partners — whether they be community organizations, psychiatric departments in general hospitals, or mental health teams in the new Centres de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS). The Douglas has already been fulfilling this mandate for several years in the areas of suicide, first psychotic episodes and eating disorders, to name a few.
"This is a great day for Douglas staff, whose professionalism and determination have made this achievement possible," explains Jacques Hendlisz, director general of the Douglas Hospital. "This designation couldn't have come at a better time, as we're celebrating our 125th anniversary. It marks a new chapter in our history. Gone are the days when we thought people suffering from mental illness could not recover. Today's Douglas is a modern University Institute that uses the best rehabilitative therapies, where research plays a central role, and where patients know that recovery is achievable and that they can lead normal, active lives."
About the University Institute
Founded in 1881 by Alfred Perry and a group of Protestant clergy and other Montreal citizens, the "Protestant Hospital for the Insane" was established to be the most progressive mental health institution in Quebec. In 1965, the name was changed to the Douglas Hospital in honour of James Douglas, MD, a pioneer in psychiatry, and his family, who contributed generously to the hospital. Major research breakthroughs by Heinz Lehmann, MD, in the 1950s resulted in the introduction of antipsychotics in North America.
These medications made it possible for many patients, previously thought incurable, to regain an active life in society. Today, the Douglas Hospital provides specialized and ultraspecialized care for all ages, treating 250 in-patients and 9,000 out-patients — from Montréal and throughout Quebec — who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity, anxiety and degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. The Douglas Hospital Research Centre, created in 1979, is the second most extensive mental health research centre in Canada, with over 60 scientists and clinical researchers, and 180 university students. This team works tirelessly to discover the causes of mental illness — whether genetic, environmental, cultural or social — in order to develop new diagnostic tools, treatments and methods of prevention.