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BMO donates $2 million to The Royal to help fund depression treatments

The Royal is receiving $2 million dollars from BMO, in the single-largest corporate gift made to the hospital in its history.

The donation to The Royal Ottawa Health Care Group is to support the newly established BMO Innovative Clinic for Depression. It will provide increased treatment opportunities to people living with severe depression and difficult-to-treat depression, according to the Royal.

Statistics Canada says one in four Canadians is struggling with a mental health issue. More than two million people in Canada experience major depression every year and one third of these individuals experience treatment-resistant depression, meaning their depression has not yet improved despite multiple treatment trials.

Marion Beckett says she’s suffered with depression for decades.

"I tried whatever they would let me try," she explained.

Her journey brought her to the Royal.

"I was hospitalized in 2019 and I was given the option to either follow up with my family doctor, or have a referral to the Royal to get myself a psychiatrist and I jumped on that," she tells CTV News Ottawa.

Part of her treatment was undertaken at a clinic for depression where clients receive Esketamine.

"I never would have imagined that I could be as well as I am today," she says.

"It can be very effective," says Dr. Jennifer Phillips, the interim scientific director of the Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR).

"I think one of the big game changers is how rapidly it works. Somebody who's experienced depression, even for years, may experience a decrease in their symptoms within a few hours or a few days of even their first treatment.

"The clinic really offers hope of accessing new and novel treatments, as they are developed or discovered. We’re starting with esketamine, but there’s room for us to offer other treatments as they are developed."

The BMO Innovative Clinic for Depression will offer increased treatment access, develop additional research opportunities, and link to other available treatments and services at The Royal.

"It's important to BMO because it brings communities together," says BMO's Victor Pellegrino. "Not only do we have a social responsibility, but we have a vested interest in helping Canadians move forward. We have 55,000 employees across North America, so you can image that we’re a cross-section of society - we deal with mental health in our own teams."

A second treatment space is in the process of being set up.

"We’re basically doubling the capacity in our esketamine research clinic, the ability to support physicians to provide treatment, to provide consults, the ability for researchers to engage in research study, and lots of training opportunities," says Dr. Florence Dzierszinski.

Innovation in mental health is giving hope to people like Beckett.

"If you want different results, you need to do something different. This is different," she says. Top Stories

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