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New chair in military mental health named after former CMA president

A new Chair in Military Mental Health has been created by the Canadian Armed Forces and named after a former Canadian Medical Association (CMA) president and founding president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Both the “CF Brigadier Jonathan C. Meakins … Chair in Military Mental Health” and creation of a national Canadian Military and Veterans Mental Health Centre of Excellence at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre (The Royal) were announced recently in Ottawa.

These initiatives followed word in November that the federal government will provide $200 million to address mental health issues among members of the Canadian Forces, veterans and their families.

“More must be done to combat mental illness in support of the Canadian Forces,” Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said during a news conference announcing that funding.

“We are pleased to see this commitment by the federal government to making more mental health resources available to members of the armed forces,” said CMA President Chris Simpson.

“We are also honoured that the work of former CMA president Jonathan Meakins, who was a pioneer in researching post-traumatic stress disorder during the First World War, is being acknowledged in this way.”

Colonel Rakesh Jetly, a senior Forces psychiatrist and mental health advisor to the Surgeon General, has been appointed the first occupant of Chair in Military Mental Health, for a period of three years.

The Canadian Military and Veterans Mental Health Centre of Excellence, established within the Canadian Forces Health Services Group in collaboration with Veterans Affairs Canada, will conduct research on unique aspects of military and veterans mental health as well as education and clinical care.

“Mental health is an issue that affects us all. Members who are battling mental illness have greater access to specialized care than ever before and these initiatives demonstrate that our government is committed to providing the best care available to our men and women in uniform,” Nicholson said in a release at the time of the announcement.

“Through this new collaboration, we believe we will be able to help more soldiers recover from debilitating psychological injuries and get their lives back. As one of the country’s foremost academic mental health care and science centres, we look forward to improving care by advancing new research in post-traumatic stress disorder and building better understanding of military and veteran mental health issues,” stated George Weber, president & CEO of The Royal, in the same release.

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces also announced an additional $16.7 million in ongoing funds to support members of the Forces, veterans and their families.

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