main hospital building at night


Five Years of Community Addiction and Mental Health Services at CCH


Following the major redevelopment project that brought our acute care services together under one roof in 2014, there was still another chapter to write in our journey to integrate and improve access to local healthcare services.

On May 26, 2017, that chapter was realized as project stakeholders and dignitaries cut the ribbon to officially open a brand-new Community Addiction and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) centre at Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH).

The new centre, strategically constructed across from the Emergency Department and staffed with a team of mental health and addiction specialists, nurses and social workers, combined adult and youth mental health and addiction services that were previously offered at three different sites in Cornwall. The facility also introduced much-needed capacity to treat more clients and reduce wait times.

Approximately 30% of people will experience mental illness and/or substance abuse at some point in their lifetime, but historically the attention and investments in the mental health sector have not kept up with the other healthcare demands. With the opening of the new centre in 2017, CCH together with our partners made decisions and investments to ensure that the needs of this population could become a priority.

The CAMHS centre could also not have been made possible without our Cornwall Community Hospital Foundation (CCHF) and its supporters, from organizations and local businesses to individual donors across SDG and Akwesasne. Over the course of three years, thanks to numerous events, pledges, and fundraising, CCHF successfully raised $1.1 million towards our capital campaign.

The impact that the centre has had in our community has been tremendous. Since 2017, nearly 45,000 local adults and youth have received treatment through CAMHS, totalling more than 330,000 visits.

Systems have been established to identify and offer services to individuals and families concurrently, and internal referrals now seamlessly allow clients to move across programs to meet their needs.

Several dedicated client and family advisory committees have been formed to ensure that the voices of clients and caregivers are being incorporated.

New chapters are now being added to our CAMHS journey as the demands for both adult and youth mental health and addiction services have increased exponentially since 2017, and even more so since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Staff are noticing new and growing trends such as an increased demand for early response teams, increased housing insecurity and homelessness, and more individuals presenting with multiple concerns.

While the past five years have focused on streamlining and solidifying services, the aim over the next five years will be to enhance cross-sector work and collaborative partnerships to address these needs: partnering with Recovery Care to launch a mobile recovery clinic in Cornwall, SDG and Akwesasne; the new short-term crisis Safe Bed Program at Riverview Manor; the Vibrant Community Roundtable to address complex societal issues like poverty and community livability with stakeholders; the expansion of mobile response teams in partnership with regional police; and, working with the Upper Canada, Cornwall and Area Ontario Health Team.

Recently CAMHS also partnered with dozens of providers across the region to form Mental Health and Addictions Partners for Regional Coordinated Access. Together, the group launched, a one-stop online portal to help put you in touch with mental health and/or substance use support, services, and care in your area.

Similarly, our Children’s and Youth Mental Health Services banded with regional partners to form the Kids Come First Help Team and launched to help put families in touch with local mental health and addiction supports for youth.

Needless to say, it’s been a busy five years for CAMHS. However, I am reminded that mental health is not a destination, rather it’s a journey and a process; and, chapters will continue to be written in our journey towards meeting the mental health and addiction needs of our population.