Investigating relapse prevention in depression

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camh, Centre for Addiction & Mental HealthTomorrow 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.

camh-buildingResearchers 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…

Whitby Shores, Whitby, Ontario

By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


    1. Serendipity! I happened to see the ad and fulfilled the criteria 🙂
      I am just happy that Canada commits such a lot of money and energy to finding solutions for those struggling with mental health issues. Bell Canada’s $10 million donation last year to support public sector work was an amazing reflection of how societies view of mental illness is changing. People are starting to recognise the need for more understanding and research in this area.

      1. Though the donation is wonderful, as a parent of a 19 yr old who suffers from depression & panic attacks, there really aren’t enough services available in Canada for those struggling.

        1. Getting the right services to those who are in genuine need of them is always going to be tricky. There are so many variables involved that affect the outcome – budget, location, individual opinion.
          All I can say is keep pushing. Your son is lucky to have you on his side.

  1. This sounds so interesting. I have reached the stage where, although not depressed now, I feel as if I might “slip back” at some point. This is very important and I look forward to hearing more..

    1. I know what you mean. I find myself wondering if I was actually able to take full advantage of my therapy when I received it, as it really was just about survival for me back then. Now that I stand back from the brink, I find myself dealing with different issues and would welcome some reassurance that my approach is still relevant.

      1. Yes, survival. You just had to get out of the terrible hole, quick. It’s different now, but like you I suspect there are hurdles along the way, and have already seen one or two on the horizon. But, taking it one day at a time seems to be the only way. I wish you luck and hope it goes well… (the stigma that you mentioned is a huge issue).

        1. Thankyou, and the same to you 😉 The stigma is diminishing, just very slowly… we need to keep up the pressure and keep the issue in the public eye.

  2. What an interesting way to assist and support others now.
    Good luck, I’m here for you if the devils or sadness give you the need to discuss your feelings or such.

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