The UBC Institute of Mental Health (IMH) is home to a community of clinicians and scientists committed to re-examining the field of mental health and mental illness, and seeking new insights into the diagnosis and treatment of some of the most challenging issues in modern medicine. Their activities include:
- Building on recent advances in the fields of neuroscience, genetics, pathology, brain imaging, psychology and epidemiology;
- Translating these advances into clinically effective preventive and treatment strategies including early intervention, psychotherapy, genetic counseling and medications;
- Ensuring, through training and education, their application in everyday clinical practice throughout British Columbia.
The Institute of Mental Health endowment was established to support leading edge research in child and adolescent psychiatry, psychotherapy, and geriatric psychiatry. As more resources become available, the breadth of activities has grown.
As an integral part of UBC’s Department of Psychiatry, the Institute of Mental Health’s interdisciplinary activities include over 90 basic and clinical researchers in the Faculties of Medicine, Science, Nursing, Education, Law and Arts.
Director (May 2018 - June 2021)
Dr. Lakshmi Yatham MBBS, DPM, FRCPC, MBA (Exec)
Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, UBC;
Regional Head of Psychiatry and Regional Program Medical Director, Vancouver Coastal Health & Providence Healthcare
In his role as Director, UBC Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Yatham will provide leadership in teaching and research, and in promoting and improving patient care and clinical service delivery, working in partnership with affiliated Health Authorities across B.C.
Dr. Yatham, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, is also the Regional Head of Psychiatry and Regional Program Medical Director for Mental Health and Addictions at Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care. He has held leadership positions for national and international professional organizations including President of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, Secretary for the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (SFSBP), and is now the President-Elect for the SFSBP. Dr. Yatham’s major areas of research interest include neurobiology and treatment of bipolar disorder and major depression.
William G. Honer, MD, FRCPC, FCAHS (October 2011 - December 2016)
Dr. Honer received his medical degree from Queen’s University. He completed specialty training in psychiatry at Vancouver General Hospital and the New York State Psychiatric Institute/ Columbia University. This was followed by research training in neuropathology and genetics at Columbia University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His research interests include mechanisms of illness in schizophrenia, brain aging and complex co-occurring illnesses such as psychosis, addiction and infectious disease. He is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and has authored the assessment section of the Canadian Clinical Practice Guidelines for Schizophrenia.
Dr. Honer has received the Young Investigator Award and the Heinz Lehmann Award from the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology and a Scientist Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He is also the recipient of a 2011 Award for Excellence in Mentoring Early Career Faculty from the UBC Faculty of Medicine.
In his role of Director, Dr. Honer will provide leadership in teaching and research, and in promoting and improving patient care and clinical service delivery, working in partnership with affiliated Health Authorities across B.C.
Athanasios Zis, MD. FRCPC (January 2011 - June 2011)
Allan H. Young, MB, ChB, MPhil, PhD, FRCPsych, FRCPC (January 2007 - December 2010)
Professor Allan H Young, Director of the UBC Institute of Mental Health, Leading Edge Endowment Fund Chair in Depression Research and Professor in the UBC Department of Psychiatry.
Dr. Young received his Medical Degree from the University of Edinburgh. He subsequently underwent postgraduate training in the University of Edinburgh and the University of Oxford, receiving his MRC Psych in 1988 and FRCPsych in 2003. Since 1999, he has been Professor of General Psychiatry and Director of Psychiatry, School of Neurology, Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, as well as an Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist.
Dr. Young’s research has focused on the causes and treatment of severe psychiatric disorders, particularly mood disorders. His research examines the causes and treatment of severe mood disorders and he is particularly interested in the procedures and protocols of proof-of-concept studies for novel drug treatments in psychiatry.
Anthony G. Phillips, PhD, FRSC ( May 2005 - 2008)
Dr. Anthony G. Phillips is a world-renowned expert in brain function and behaviour. He is the Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, the Founding Director of the UBC Institute of Mental Health, a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a senior investigator with the University of British Columbia/Vancouver Coastal Health Brain Research Centre. He is a former Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Phillips earned his Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and PhD in Psychology from the University of Western Ontario. His research focuses on the neurobiology of motivation, drug addiction and mental illness, with a specific emphasis on clinical implications. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Dr. Phillips is a founder of QLT, one of Canada’s leading biotechnology companies, and is currently a director of Allon Therapeutics Inc. He serves as a Councillor for the Society for Neuroscience and is the Vice-President of the Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum (CINP). He is also actively involved in numerous other national and international neuroscience programs.
Dr. Phillips has received numerous awards for his research including a Steacie Fellowship from NSERC; and most recently, the Heinz Lehmann Award from the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology in March 2009. He maintains a very active and productive laboratory in systems neuroscience.
IMH Centre for Care and Research
The IMH Centre for Care and Research which was established to carry out the UBC-IMH mission through applying novel assessment tools and treatments to improve the lives of individuals living with mental illness, addictions, and associated physical illness. The IMH CCR is comprised of a group of clinician investigators focusing on novel assessment, diagnostic strategies and treatments through research and patient care in a diverse patient population seen in psychiatry including genetic counselling, autism, traumatic brain injury and psychosis. The infrastructure and collaborative environment of the UBC-IMH provides access to: animal models of mental disorders and addictions, cutting edge technologies for assessment and treatment in the Non-invasive Neurostimulation Therapies lab (established through a $2M donation), and access to a full suite of genomic research tools including exome sequencing, array hybridization for copy number variant analysis, and DNA methylation analysis for epigenetics.
IMH Speakers Series Luncheon
In the interest of reaching out and being present in the community, the institute hosts regular luncheon meetings to advance its vision. These intimate meetings of approximately a dozen guests allow community members to learn about the cutting-edge research and work of institute-related faculty members and engage guests in dialogue directly with UBC researchers.
Past Speakers have included:
Dr. William Honer– Schizophrenia
Professor and Head Department of
Dr. William MacEwan - Schizophrenia
Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Dr. Anthony Bailey - Autism
Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Dr. Jehannine Austin - Genetics
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Dr. William Panenka –Neuropsychiatry
Assistant Professor (Partner), Department of Psychiatry
Dr. Evelyn Stewart - Child
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Coast Capital Savings Fund
To fund research into the causes and treatment of mental illness in British Columbia.
In 2014 Coast Capital Savings Charity Golf Tournament raised $204,373, bringing the total contribution of the annual fundraiser to mental health research in B.C. to more than $1.8 million to date.
The tournament, then in its 13th year, benefits VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation and is part of Coast Capital Savings' community promise to help build healthy minds by combating depression and other forms of mental illness. Interim Coast Capital Savings president and CEO Don Coulter said the credit union's dedication to addressing mental health challenges faced by British Columbians stems from both a moral and business imperative.
"Many of us know someone who has experienced the silent suffering and stigma often associated with mental illness," Coulter said. "Raising funds for research and treatment is a way for us to translate our caring into action. In addition to the personal toll, mental illness carries significant business and economic costs and we hope the funds raised through the Coast Capital Savings Charity Golf Tournament will help advance the important work being done by researchers in this area."
Monies raised through the Coast Capital Savings Charity Golf Tournament over the years have gone to support mental health research at the University of British Columbia. Dr. William Honer, head of psychiatry at UBC and director of the university's Institute of Mental Health, said public funding is helping researchers make strides in mental health intervention and care.
"The outstanding success of the Coast Capital Savings' Golf Tournament supports clinical research at the UBC and VGH Hospital sites," Dr. Honer says. "The goals are the "three i's": to innovate, incubate, and then integrate advances in the care of mental illness to improve the health of our patients, and create value for the health care system. Carrying this out needs the help of tremendous donor groups like Coast Capital."
Wayne Berg, Coast Capital's chief commercial officer and campaign chair for the 2014 tournament, thanked all the individuals and businesses that participated in this year's event held at Surrey's Northview Golf and Country Club. He commended the organizations that partnered with the credit union as sponsors noting that such strong community response reflects a growing awareness of the importance of mental health funding and support.
"Several businesses have made significant contributions to this fundraising effort since Coast Capital Savings launched the tournament more than a decade ago and it's great to see such leadership from the business community," Berg said. "The success of this year's event owes in large part to the valuable support of platinum sponsors: CRI Canada, Desjardins Card Services, IDC Worldsource, Landcor Data Corp and SEI investments.
Barbara Grantham, president and CEO of VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, recognized Coast Capital's longstanding support for the Foundation. "Coast Capital Savings has demonstrated exceptional leadership in the community by mobilizing awareness about mental health and supporting path-finding research that will continue to have a positive impact on individuals and families affected by mental illness," Barbara Grantham says. "We are grateful for Coast Capital Savings' longstanding commitment to advancing patient care and research through our hospitals."
Coast Capital Savings has been at the forefront of efforts in the business sector to drive awareness and action on mental health issues both in the workplace and community for many years. As part of the credit union's community investments in this area, Coast Capital recently contributed $432,000 towards Fraser Health's Speak Up campaign, an initiative designed to provide teens and young adults with a voice in the mental health discussion.
Coast Capital Savings is Canada's second largest credit union, owned by its 512,000 members. It has 50 branches in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island regions of British Columbia and has exciting plans to grow. Product innovations include Canada's first free chequing account from a full-service financial institution. Coast Capital offers one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™ and was named one of 2014's BC Top Employers. It is a member of Canada's Best Managed Companies Platinum Club and an Imagine Canada Caring Company. To learn more, visit www.coastcapitalsavings.com.
For more information, contact:
UBC Institute of Mental Health
Department of Psychiatry,
University of British Columbia
2255 Wesbrook Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 2A1
Tel : 604 822 7310
Fax : 604 822 0399
The Bell Youth Mental Health IMPACT Project
IMH receives $1M from Bell for online youth mental health outreach and research
Today UBC and Bell announced a $1M gift to establish the Bell Youth Mental Health IMPACT project. This initiative will enable researchers from the University of British Columbia to conduct mental health outreach to youth in need.
The gift was announced today by Mary Deacon, Chair of the Bell Let’s Talk mental health initiative, at a ceremony at UBC Robson Square. Ms. Deacon was joined by Bell President and CEO George Cope, UBC Chancellor Sarah Morgan-Silvester, Faculty of Medicine Vice Dean Ross MacGillivray and Psychiatry Professor Michael Krausz.
The Bell Youth Mental Health IMPACT Project will be led by Dr. Krausz, who is also the UBC-Providence Leading Edge Endowment Fund (LEEF) Chair in Addiction Research, at the Institute of Mental Health, part of UBC’s Faculty of Medicine.
As part of the project, researchers will develop a mental health web portal that provides educational and self-assessment tools, automated feedback, a list of treatment options, advice on obtaining services, and coping techniques. Additional features, such as online consultations through e-mail, chat rooms, video-conferencing, instant messaging and social media tools, will be added in the future based on research into the effectiveness of this outreach model.
“Despite the high prevalence of anxiety and depression, especially among those in late adolescence and early adulthood, the proportion of people who actually receive treatment in time is quite low,” said Dr. Krausz, an expert in epidemiology and public health.
“Too often, their first opportunity to access care results from an encounter with police or a trip to the emergency room. Enabling young adults to get help early will reduce the chances that their condition will lead to substance abuse or attempts at suicide,” Dr. Krausz added.
“We are very pleased to be partnering with UBC on this project which will use the latest technology to help young people suffering from mental illness have better access to care,” said Ms. Deacon. “The Bell Youth Mental Health IMPACT Project fits perfectly with the Bell Let’s Talk initiative and is another example of Bell partnering with leading institutions across the country, like UBC, who are looking for innovative ways to broaden the scope of work that they do to address mental health throughout our communities.”
The project will include: research into how B.C.’s young adults are currently using online mental health resources and what is lacking; testing of a web-based psychotherapy program that includes an online self-assessment tool along with self-guided exercises and techniques; creation of a similar online program for anxiety; and testing the effectiveness of various online communication channels, not only between experts and patients but also between experts and primary care providers.
At first, the project will focus on underserved communities and involve partnerships with primary care physicians, school counselors, police and family organizations to facilitate use of the platform by those who need it. Insights from these pilot studies will be used to develop a province-wide mental health web portal.
The project will leverage the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s experience in creating a sophisticated, robust communications network for its distributed medical education program, which encompasses four academic campuses and about 20 clinical sites around the province.
“The Faculty of Medicine, through its distributed medical education network, now has ample experience using technology to address the health care needs of B.C.’s population,” said Dr. Gavin Stuart, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and UBC’s vice provost health. “We are grateful that Bell has given us the opportunity to apply that experience in creating a new model for providing mental health care, one that is particularly suited to the province’s scattered population.”
The Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health Initiative is a $50-million, multi-year charitable program that promotes mental health across Canada based on four key pillars: anti-stigma, care and access, research, and workplace best practices. It’s the largest-ever corporate investment in mental health in Canada. To learn more about the Bell’s initiative, including Bell Let’s Day on February 8, 2012, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.
The UBC Faculty of Medicine provides innovative programs in the health and life sciences, teaching students at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels. Its faculty members received $295 million in research funds, 54 percent of UBC’s total research revenues, in 2010-11. For more information, visit www.med.ubc.ca.
The UBC Institute of Mental Health is home to a community of clinicians and scientists who are fully committed to re-examining the field of mental health and mental illness, and to seeking new insights into the diagnosis and treatment of some of the most challenging issues in modern medicine.
The Dream Healer
The Institute is also playing an active role in organizing a series of academic lectures designed to complement the world premier of the opera, The Dream Healer, based on Timothy Findley’s Pilgrim which focuses on Carl Jung’s time at the Burghölzli Clinic.
The opera, The Dream Healer, is not just a work of biography, but also of social issues relating to total health – a concept that Jung pioneered by broadening our understanding of healing to include not only science but also the humanities and the arts.
This fundamental element is personified by blending the opera with a lecture series in a unique combination of medicine and music. The series of three lectures featuring international authorities on topic ranging from Stigma to Suicide, plus a film presentation, will be held at the Chan Centre from March 2-8, 2008 and will be open to both the academic community and general public.
Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education
The Institute has an ongoing partnership with the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education aimed at establishing dialogues on topics of mutual interest as they pertain to mental health and the well-being of our society. Following on from the great success of organizing and presenting the September 2006 Dialogue on Happiness and Stress as Determinants of Mental Health, between HH the Dalai Lama and prominent clinical and social scientists, the Institute has co-sponsored two separate events at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue featuring, on one occasion presentations by Professor Richard Davidson University of Wisconsin, and John Helliwell, UBC, and most recently Professor Paul Ekman, UCSF, speaking about his upcoming book “Emotion and Compassion,” derived from nearly 40 hours of conversation with HHDL.
A current focus of the Department’s Public Education program is a mental health film series called “Frames of Mind“. Its goal is to promote community education of issues pertaining to mental health and illness. This ongoing series consists of a once-a-month evening screening of a feature length dramatic film or documentary followed by an informal presentation related to the mental health issue depicted in the film. Speakers and panelists range from psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to representatives from mental health community-based and nonprofit organizations, cinema experts and mental health consumers and their family members. A moderated discussion concludes each evening, with full audience participation encouraged.
Other aspects of the series – now in its eighth year – include its rotating co-sponsorship by relevant community advocacy organizations and its ongoing evaluation by those who attend. To date, topics ranging from depression to schizophrenia to autism have now been successfully presented to over 8000 attendees. Please see website
Screenings are held at 7:30pm on the third Wednesday evening of each month at the Pacific Cinematheque Theatre, 1131 Howe Street.
BrainTalks is a series of talks designed to invite you to consider emerging research about the brain. Researchers studying the brain, from various disciplines including psychiatry, neuroscience, neuroimaging, and neurology, gather to discuss current leading edge topics on the mind. The talks include:
- dialogue around current topics in the news and popular press
- up-to-date reviews of current literature in academic press
- videos and/or film excerpts of relevant discoveries
- CME credits for select talks
For a list of lecture topics, and detailed descriptions, view the website.
The Institute has played a major role in the recruitment of other outstanding scientists to UBC and its affiliated clinical departments:
Anthony Bailey, MB,BS, DCH, MRCPsych, FRCPsych
Professor and Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
University of British Columbia
Michael Krausz, MD, PhD, FRCPC
Professor, LEEF Chair Addiction Research
Centre for Health Evaluation & Outcome Services
Judy Illes, PhD
Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics and
Professor of Neurology,
National Core for Neuroethics,
University of British Columbia
Contact Institute of Mental Health
UBC Institute of Mental Health
2255 Wesbrook Mall,
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V6T 2A1
William G. Honer, MD, FRCPC, FCAHS
Jack Bell Chair in Schizophrenia
Professor and Head, Department of Psychiatry, UBC
Director, Institute of Mental Health
Administrative CoordinatorCorinne Carpenter