Tomorrow I’m off to Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, affectionately known as “cam-aitch”. It’s Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world’s leading research centres in the areas of addiction and mental health. It’s fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.
CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy and health promotion to transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. There are more than 100 full-time scientists and 450 research staff and students working together to better understand mental illness and substance use disorders and improve diagnosis, prevention, intervention, treatment and public policy initiatives.
Researchers there are investigating psychological interventions to help people stay well after experiencing depression. They are interested in comparing two relapse prevention programs for people who have struggled with recurrent depression. I have always been interested in understanding human psychology and mental health and am passionate about reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues, so I’m volunteering my services as a guinea pig for the programs. As a previous sufferer of depression who is not depressed now, I am exactly what they’re looking for in a test subject. I know, from my own experience of mental illness, how maintaining mental equilibrium in recovery is an ongoing task that needs careful monitoring and personal awareness. It’s always too easy to slip back into old habits/ways of thinking.
Which programme I participate in will be decided randomly, and then my progress will be monitored to see how I go. There will be blood tests, an MRI, group therapy sessions and web-based surveys to complete.
I’ll be able to tell you more about it after tomorrow’s appointment, apparently there’s a nine-page consent form to fill in, so I need to be completely aware of what I’m agreeing to before I commit…