CHEO has received a $1 million donation for an Early Childhood Mental Health Clinic (IECMH) to treat some of the most vulnerable infants and children.
The Ottawa-based Happy Roots Foundation donated the money. The funding will support a team providing clinical care, community training and research,
“This generous donation from the Happy Roots Foundation is going to cover the clinical cost of running the program for the next three years,” said Dr. Katherine Matheson, staff psychiatrist at CHEO.
“In addition to clinical service delivery, it’s going to allow us to build capacity in the community with our community partners and different agencies in Ottawa and across eastern Ontario.”
“I have a background working with families in conflict; I really have an appreciation for what it means to support parents and supporting their kids,” Linsey Sherman-Zekulin, Happy Roots Foundation founder, told CTV News.
“We created Happy Roots Foundation to support parents in building strong, secure connections with their kids in the earliest years, which the research tells us is a crucial ingredient for building resilient brains and bodies,” said Sherman-Zekulin in a statement from the CHEO Foundation.
“We’re excited to support programming at CHEO and across Ottawa that will, we hope, destigmatize socially-entrenched beliefs about infant and children’s mental health, and promote early intervention as a means of prevention.”
The service is designed to treat mental health problems in infants and children, from birth to age 6. In the case of babies and infants, support and treatment often involve the entire family.
“I think it’s amazing — I mean, we need the funding for it,” said CHEO mom Londe McLelland. “We know how important the first few years are, and this is when the interventions matter for a lot of mental health, and I think it’s great that we’re finally at a place where we’re seeing mental health as health.”
CHEO President and CEO Alex Munter says this donation will help respond to the growing need for early interventions and lasting mental health solutions.