Launching the Poul Hansen Family Centre for Depression at Toronto Western Hospital

A landmark gift of $5 million, generously made by Poul and Susan Hansen, is helping launch the Poul Hansen Family Centre for Depression, a new facility within the Centre for Mental Health at Toronto Western Hospital. This is the first philanthropic donation of this magnitude that the Centre has received, which will directly support mental health research, programs and treatment, improving patient care at University Health Network (UHN).

The establishment of the Poul Hansen Family Centre for Depression will enable Toronto Western Hospital to expand its reach to thousands of patients across Ontario, providing them with access to UHN’s leading psychiatrists to help treat depression and mood disorders. This new space will merge the current Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) Clinic, led by Dr. Jonathan Downar with the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Clinic, overseen by Dr. Roger McIntyre.

rTMS is a non-invasive, alternative treatment option for those with hard-to-treat depression and other mental health disorders. In addition to operating the rTMS Clinic, Dr. Downar and his team conduct research to try and discover ways to make rTMS treatment more accessible to patients.

In the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Clinic, Dr. McIntyre and his team focus on assessing and providing medication recommendations to those with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder.

The merge will aim to establish a one-stop-shop for those with depression seeking help and treatment, and provide a more holistic, personalized approach to care. Patients and their families will be assisted at every step of their journey as they navigate their way through vulnerable, often challenging times in their lives.

Susan and Poul’s impactful gift will go towards supporting patient education, family resources, increased clinical care including Personal Care Coordinators or patient navigators, hiring technicians and physician assistants to enhance the Centre’s capacity, along with revitalizing the space and outfitting new equipment for the facility.

“We were inspired to explore how we might contribute to the Centre for Mental Health by our daughter. She was helped immeasurably by the treatment she received at the rTMS clinic, and by all the associated caring professionals – especially Dr. Susan Abbey [UHN’s Psychiatrist-in-Chief] and Dr. Jonathan Downar,” says Susan Hansen.

“When we learned of their compassionate dedication to providing treatment to as many patients as possible, working creatively with whatever resources were at their disposal, we wanted to help,” she continues.

Dr. Downar, neuroscientist and psychiatrist at Toronto Western Hospital, says the kind of integrated mental health care the Hansen’s daughter received should be more available to all patients. For so long, barriers such as wait-lists and accessibility have hindered mental health patients from receiving this integrated care easily.

Thanks to the Hansen Family’s instrumental support, Dr. Downar is excited to be part of this new chapter at UHN and wants to focus on pioneering an approach that will bring universal and integrated health care, including mental health care, to all Canadians.

“We know the Poul Hansen Family Centre for Depression will give hope to those who may have lost it, by making rTMS and any integrated supporting treatment more accessible and more readily available,” says Susan.

The Poul Hansen Family Centre for Depression will be opening imminently at Toronto Western Hospital.

On behalf of Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation and UHN, it is with deep gratitude that we thank Susan and Poul for their tremendous support in opening more doors for those in need of care, being advocates and allies for patients and professionals in the field of mental health.

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