Making the link between mind and body health

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“The facts show that good mental health is directly tied to overall physical health and vice versa,” says Dr. Joseph Ferencz, Interim Chief of Psychiatry at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. “There is no separation between mind and body health, and now is the time to break down those barriers and transform the way we think about delivering mental health and addiction care in Canada.”

When St. Joseph’s new building, the Margaret & Charles Juravinski Centre for Integrated Healthcare, opens in February 2014 at the hospital’s West 5th Campus, it will replace the existing facilities on the site. The new hospital will fully embody the organization’s vision of integration by providing diagnostic and medical outpatient programs in harmony with the regional program for mental health and addiction care.

“Whether you’re living with a chronic illness like diabetes, require an x-ray, or need support managing your anxiety disorder, you’ll find the resources and care you need at the West 5th Campus,” explains Dr. Ferencz. “Our facility reflects our vision to change the way that mental health and addiction are perceived, prevented, and treated. It’s not just about bricks and mortar. It’s a whole new approach to healthcare.”

This philosophy of care is reflected in the new building in a number of ways. The modern design is inspired by healing, openness and accessibility. The therapeutic environment includes private patient rooms with ensuite washrooms to foster greater independence, privacy and safety for clients. Each unit also boasts a beautiful courtyard which will provide clients with access to the outdoors. Hundreds of windows look out onto stunning views of the natural surroundings and escarpment to promote comfort and wellness.

This new centre also acknowledges St. Joseph’s commitment to innovation through the inclusion of research and academic spaces, integrated with clinical care. The West 5th Campus will be a full-fledged academic health sciences centre, and the home of McMaster University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences. Here, ground-breaking research into the causes of and treatments for mental health and addiction will take place. With an embedded research and education program, St. Joseph’s will create an environment that not only fosters innovation in research, but also advances the way knowledge is translated to patients and clinicians at St. Joseph’s.

On a cultural level, St. Joseph’s is working to eliminate stigma from the inside, out. Health care providers have an important role to play in eliminating the stigma experienced by people living with mental illness. Within its 850,000 square foot centre, St. Joseph’s dedicated team of health care professionals – along with learners, researchers, and volunteers – will contribute to an atmosphere where individuals and their families feel comfortable asking for the help they need.

Through education and advocacy efforts targeting staff and the greater Hamilton community, St. Joseph’s is driving awareness and acceptance so that individuals living with mental illness are treated with the respect, dignity and compassion they deserve. “This is all part of the recovery-focused model of care that we are privileged to provide to our clients,” adds Dr. Ferencz.

“We’re developing a system where clients are empowered to help establish their own recovery goals,” says Dr. Ferencz. “And where they are provided with the treatment, support, and resources they need to transition successfully back into the community.”

St. Joseph’s is shaping a future where clinical care, research and education are fully integrated; where patients are treated in comprehensive clinics, and where new models of care are created and shared. The new West 5th Campus will enhance St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s role as the regional leader in providing care for those living with mental illness and addiction.