CHATHAM-KENT: July 4, 2014 – Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) and the Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent (CMHA LK) are thrilled to announce their involvement in ACCESS Canada, a newly established national research network focused on using research evidence to create positive change to how care is provided to young people with mental illness. This $25 million five-year research project is the first of its kind. 

The ACCESS Canada network was one of 54 applications made in response to a prestigious grant, which was offered in partnership through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Graham Boeckh Foundation (GBF) via Transformational Research in Adolescent Mental Health (TRAM). The successful application focused on a unique approach to catalyze fundamental change in Canadian youth mental healthcare in the next five years. The CKHA and CMHA LK integrated mental health program is one of six sites throughout Canada who are part of ACCESS Canada and the only site in Ontario. 

Through the vision and leadership of CKHA’s Chief of Psychiatry, Dr. Ranjith Chandrasena, and the long standing community support provided through the Rotary Club of Chatham, in particular the leadership of Tom McCarthy and Tom Storey, CKHA and CMHA LK were invited to join a team from McGill University led by Dr. Ashok Malla, Professor of Psychiatry, to develop a collaborative Canada-wide youth mental health proposal. This initiative implements new, proven approaches to identify youth who are in need of services and provide them with quality, timely and appropriate care by accessing a pan-Canadian network that unites patients, family representatives, policy makers, service providers and community organizations. 

The ACCESS Canada Network sites will come together over the coming months to begin developing the project plan. It is anticipated that the Network will use a rolling process, with sites coming fully on-stream at different times over a two year period. The timing for Chatham-Kent is not yet confirmed. 

In Canada, one-in-five people experience a mental illness in their lifetime. 75% of mental health problems and illnesses begin prior to the age of 25, and more than 50% begin between the ages of 11 and 25. Unfortunately, adolescents and youth have the least access to mental health care, as existing services are designed mainly for younger children and older adults. 


“Dr. Malla was truly impressed by our unique, integrated model between hospital and community mental health services that included a strong academic and research component. He recognized this as a leading practice that would further strengthen the ACCESS Network proposal. A significant contribution in the development of the Canada-wide proposal came from Paula Reaume-Zimmer, Integrated Program Director, CKHA & CMHA, which placed Chatham-Kent in a prominent role.” – Dr. Chandrasena, Interim Chief of Staff & Chief of Psychiatry 

“Youth mental health has been a priority for CKHA, and we’re fortunate that it’s also been a priority for our community. Our initial partnership with the local Rotary Club is what got us started. When there was no provincial funding available, the Rotary Club stepped in and helped us create the Today Not Tomorrow – Early Youth Psychosis project (TNT). Since then we have been able to introduce fundamental services that individuals with an early psychosis require.” – Paula Reaume-Zimmer, Integrated Program Director, CKHA & CMHA 

“The Rotary Club of Chatham is thrilled that the Today Not Tomorrow project will be further explored at a national level. Eight years ago, our Club sponsored a comprehensive study of mental health related needs of youth in our community. We concluded that support for early diagnosis and intervention should be a club priority. A deliberate partnership was developed between our Rotary Club and CKHA. The TNT program was born, and it has been a tremendous asset to our local healthcare community.” – Tom Storey, Rotary Club of Chatham 

“While this important project is focused on the Chatham-Kent community, our unique partnership with CKHA and our Lambton Kent-wide service delivery area will enable us to bring the learnings and opportunities of the ACCESS Canada initiative to youth in Sarnia-Lambton as well. Our success will largely rely on our community, specifically our youth and their family’s stories that describe an experience that is compassionate, responsive and seamless and is a transformed mental health services that the Boeckh’s can be proud of.” – Alan Stevenson, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent 

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: 
Melissa Weber 
Mental Health & Addictions Program 
519-436-6100 ext. 2228 

Michele Lawton 
Communications Department 
519-352-6401 ext. 6315 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ACCESS Canada? 

ACCESS Canada is a national research network that was created by TRAM – Transformational Research in Adolescent Mental Health – which is a partnership of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Graham Boeckh Foundation (GBF). To learn more about TRAM visit: 

ACCESS Canada stands for: 
Adolescent/young adult 
Connections to 
Strengths-based and stigma-free 

Who is funding ACCESS Canada? 

Funding for ACCESS Canada is provided by TRAM. The funding commitment over five years is a 50/50 split between CIHR and GBK, at $12.5 million each over five years for a total of $25 million. 

How did ACCESS Canada get developed? 

While young people are more likely to experience mental health disorders than any other age group, they have the least access to mental health care. Existing services are designed for younger children and older adults, meaning that the system is weakest where it should be strongest. As a result, mental illness takes an enormous toll on youth and their families, with high levels of preventable mortality and life-long illness. 

In response, the CIHR and the GBF created the TRAM partnership to find solutions to this problem and, ultimately, to improve mental health outcomes in Canada. Through a competitive process ACCESS Canada is the successful applicant to establish a national research network that will seek to address this gap in care. It represents a new way of working collaboratively with the provinces, territories, and partners, to increase resources and support research that will transform Canada's healthcare system. Financial support for the network is provided through TRAM. 

How did this community get involved in the Network? 

With a track record of research excellence, innovative solutions and collaboration, CKHA’s Mental Health and Addictions Program has built a strong network of partners in research and clinical practice. It has also benefitted from community support provided through the Rotary of Club of Chatham to establish youth mental health programs in absence of provincial funding. It was through these experiences and relationships that CKHA was invited into discussions about the network application. As well, CKHA leadership officially endorsed local involvement in this exciting initiative to the organizers during the initial stages of the network planning. Over a year ago, CKHA and CMHA LK were formally invited to join a team from McGill University led by Dr. Ashok Malla, Professor of Psychiatry, in an effort to develop a collaborative Canada-wide youth mental health proposal called the ACCESS Canada Network

What will be the local impact of the ACCESS Canada research network? 

This initiative will bring additional youth mental health resources to our community and is expected to “transform” youth mental health services. It’s a strong demonstration of how innovative partnerships and collaboration have a significant influence on systems planning and transformation of the delivery of healthcare services. 

Who locally will be involved? 

• Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Mental Health and Addictions Program 
• Canadian Mental Health Association, Lambton Kent 
• Chatham Kent Children’s Services 
• Chatham-Police Services 
• Mobile HELP Team
• Erie St. Clair, Regional Early Intervention Program (Windsor Essex, Chatham-Kent and Sarnia Lambton) 
• Community Care Access Centre MH&A resource nurses providing services in primary and secondary schools 

When will we learn more about this exciting initiative? 

Plans are already underway to host some awareness and celebration events this fall. This will serve as an opportunity to recognize all those who contributed to the successful submission. It will also provide a forum to educate providers and youth stakeholders in greater detail about the initiative as well as share insights into how they may contribute to the network’s success or become more involved.

Search form

Your opinions and feedback matter, send us your comments, questions and concerns.

Chatham Campus

Chatham Site

80 Grand Avenue West
P.O. Box 2030
Chatham, ON N7M 5L9

Sydenham Campus

Wallaceburg Site

325 Margaret Ave
Wallaceburg, ON N8A 2A7