Garry Hurvitz donates $50 million to SickKids in support of paediatric brain and mental health

·8 min read

TORONTO, Sept. 21, 2021 /CNW/ - A transformative gift of $50 million donated by Garry Hurvitz to SickKids Foundation was announced today, unveiling the Garry Hurvitz Centre for Brain & Mental Health and the Garry Hurvitz Centre for Community Mental Health. More than 70 per cent of mental health issues arise before the age of 18, and one in five youth in Canada require mental health care. With expertise ranging from neonatal brain injury to adolescent mental health and powered by this gift, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is poised to be a world leader in advancing paediatric brain and mental health.

The SickKids VS Limits campaign has raised $1.3 billion to date. (CNW Group/SickKids Foundation)
The SickKids VS Limits campaign has raised $1.3 billion to date. (CNW Group/SickKids Foundation)

This momentous donation will enable revolutionary advances in paediatric brain health and development, as well as child and youth mental health by bringing together a critical mass of interprofessional expertise needed to tackle the brain's unparalleled complexity. It will fuel ground-breaking research, education and care to transform outcomes for children and youth affected by a wide range of conditions including neonatal brain injury, brain tumours, stroke, epilepsy, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, neuromuscular disease, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and more.

Internationally successful entrepreneur and Toronto philanthropist Garry Hurvitz knows well the importance of investing in brain and mental health. He shared his own personal connection and experience at an event held this morning.

"I made the commitment I did to invest in brain and mental health at SickKids so every kid who feels the way I did has somewhere to turn. My last 15 years have been anxiety and depression-free, although that requires constant work for me, but I have no doubt that early intervention would have helped me," said Garry Hurvitz. "I am doing this because I want to make sure kids have a better experience than I did. I want them to know they're not alone. And, I hope others will join me."

Indeed, the potential impact of the donation for this generation and those to come is significant. The donation will enable the Centre for Brain & Mental Health leadership to support key areas that will contribute to advancements in research, care and capacity building. Additional highlights of how the donation will enable and support advancement in care include:

  • Recruitment and support of the highest-calibre research Chairs (in Neurology and in Neurosurgery), and a Brain Health Innovator, positioning SickKids to be a global leader cultivating world class talent;

  • Development of high impact fellowships that advance brain health and mental health research;

  • Support for new therapies for neuromuscular, neuroinflammatory, and neurodevelopmental diseases and ongoing monitoring of patient outcomes to enable quality improvement;

  • Creation of an Innovation Fund allowing the Garry Hurvitz Centre for Brain & Mental Health to make strategic high-impact and transformative research investments;

  • Support for initiatives that re-imagine integrated care for children with complex mental and physical health conditions;

  • Innovation in treatment models that support improved outcomes for children, youth and their families including siblings who are often impacted by the stress and complexity of mental health issues;

  • Enabling an integrated digital information strategy across the hospital and with the Garry Hurvitz Centre for Community Mental Health's two locations in Toronto; and

  • Education, capacity building and enhanced services to enable the highest quality community-based treatment.

"Today's announcement will enable us to push forward on our ambitious mental health strategy, discover and deliver cutting-edge precision treatments, and share our expertise so patients can get high-quality care inside and outside the walls of SickKids," said Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO, SickKids. "Garry Hurvitz's generous gift will support talented, compassionate and innovative brain and mental health experts. Together, there are no limits to what we can accomplish."

"Because of Garry Hurvitz's transformative gift we now have the opportunity to better the trajectory of countless young lives as we strive to improve the full continuum of brain and mental health across the lifespan," said Dr. Steven Miller, Head, Division of Neurology and Garry Hurvitz Centre for Brain & Mental Health, SickKids.

Research led by SickKids on the mental health impacts of the global pandemic on children and youth in Ontario show increased reports of clinically significant anxiety and depression. Across SickKids mental health services, which extend from the hospital to our community-based sites, practitioners are engaged in up to 63,000 mental health interactions each year with children, youth and families who represent the many diverse populations served in Toronto and across the province. Never before have the needs of these children and youth been more important. This gift will enable SickKids to co-design solutions with clients and caregivers with the goal of transforming mental health care models and improving long-term outcomes.

"Thankfully, this gift arrives at a critical time for child and youth mental health. The number of parents who feel their child has a mental health challenge has increased three-fold in the last few years, putting a bigger strain on our community mental health agencies," said Dr. Suneeta Monga, Associate Psychiatrist in Chief, SickKids. "This awe-inspiring donation will be a catalyst for much-needed change."

"We are so grateful for visionary philanthropist Garry Hurvitz, whose incredibly generous gift today will help fuel SickKids research and care from the earliest stages of brain development through to the most complex mental health challenges in adolescence, an area with an ever-increasing need," said Ted Garrard, CEO, SickKids Foundation. "It's an honour to work with community leaders and donors like Garry and it's our hope this announcement will inspire others in the community to join us in our campaign to reimagine SickKids."

This $50-million gift supports the SickKids VS: Limits campaign, a key element of which involves the redevelopment of the SickKids campus. Launched in October 2017, the SickKids VS: Limits campaign is a six-year, $1.5 billion fundraising campaign, the largest in Canadian health care history. To date, the campaign has celebrated reaching its one millionth donor and surpassing $1.3 billion raised. The vision is to create a children's hospital for the future, designed to elevate care by attracting world-class talent, adapting to changing patient volumes, needs and technology, and providing advanced care in a comfortable environment for patients and families with diverse and complex needs.

About SickKids Foundation:
Established in 1972, SickKids Foundation raises funds on behalf of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and is the largest charitable funder of child health research, learning and care in Canada. Philanthropy is a critical source of funding for SickKids – one of the world's foremost paediatric health-care institutions. Thanks to the generosity of the community, and despite the impacts of the global pandemic, SickKids Foundation generated more than $172.3 million in revenue for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021. Please visit sickkidsfoundation.com.

About The Garry Hurvitz Centre for Brain & Mental Health and The Garry Hurvitz Centre for Community Mental Health
The Garry Hurvitz Centre for Brain & Mental Health is a virtual hub at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) that cultivates the seamless multidisciplinary integration of research, education, and clinical care to improve the outcomes of children and youth living with brain and mental health disorders. More than 2,000 researchers, educators, clinicians and staff are already advancing and implementing new therapies for complex brain and mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, suicidality, multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, and neonatal brain injury, among others. Please visit https://www.sickkids.ca/en/care-services/centres/centre-for-brain-mental-health/

The Garry Hurvitz Centre for Community Mental Health is a child and youth mental health centre offering a range of in-person and virtual mental health services for children and youth (infancy to 18) and their families, from prevention and early intervention through assessment, counselling and therapy and intensive services. The Centre is part of the SickKids continuum of mental health services for children and youth, which includes the Garry Hurvitz Brain & Mental Health Program, and has locations in the northwest area in the City of Toronto, on Sheppard Avenue West and downtown on Jarvis Street. Please visit https://sickkidscmh.ca/.

About The Hospital for Sick Children
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is recognized as one of the world's foremost paediatric health-care institutions and is Canada's leading centre dedicated to advancing children's health through the integration of patient care, research and education. Founded in 1875 and affiliated with the University of Toronto, SickKids is one of Canada's most research-intensive hospitals and has generated discoveries that have helped children globally. Its mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized family-centred care; pioneer scientific and clinical advancements; share expertise; foster an academic environment that nurtures health-care professionals; and champion an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. SickKids is proud of its vision for Healthier Children. A Better World. Please visit sickkids.ca.

SOURCE SickKids Foundation

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