Dual Diagnosis: The most common and devastating disorder you've never heard of

    New National Coalition on Dual Diagnosis calls for government support at
    launch on November 13, 2008

    TORONTO, Nov. 10 /CNW/ - Approximately 380,000 Canadians live with a
lifelong disorder called Dual Diagnosis, but chances are you've never heard of
this condition before. This lack of awareness has led a group of individuals,
families, and service providers to create the National Coalition on Dual
Diagnosis, which will officially launch on Thursday, November 13 at 11 am at
the Sheraton Fallsview Conference Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This
Coalition will advocate for a more humane response to the needs of Canadians
who have both a developmental disability and a mental health problem, and
their families.
    "Imagine that your family member lives with developmental disability -
with Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Autism, a brain injury, or another
similar diagnosis. Now imagine that this same family member has also been
diagnosed with a mental health problem - with depression, bipolar disorder,
schizophrenia or another mental illness. This is the reality of Dual
Diagnosis," says Susan Morris, Clinical Director of the Dual Diagnosis Program
at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Co-lead, National
Coalition on Dual Diagnosis.
    People with Dual Diagnosis are likely to have severe and complex
symptoms, poor physical health, and difficulties with verbal communication.
Some express their emotions through aggressive behaviours or self-injury.
    Services for people with this complex and difficult disorder are
inadequate, and poorly coordinated. Most require supports from family and
caregivers to participate in day-to-day life, and those without often live in
poverty, without adequate housing, proper food or work. Research indicated
that between 10-50% of Canada's homeless or inadequately housed have a Dual
    "Suffering from the combined effects of two of the most stigmatized
health problems in our society-developmental disability and mental health
problems-places this population in a 'double jeopardy' that has kept their
issues hidden in the closet and off the public's radar for far too long," said
Robin Friedlander, Chair of Developmental Disabilities Section, Canadian
Psychiatric Association.
    Galvanized by the recent creation of the Mental Health Commission of
Canada, hundreds involved with people with Dual Diagnosis are coming together
in a national movement to have the needs of this doubly-stigmatized population
included in the broader National Mental Health Strategy. On Thursday, November
13, the four organizations shown here will formally launch the National
Coalition on Dual Diagnosis, uniting individuals, families and service
providers to speak with one national voice for the first time in history.
    "Our message is simple: people with Dual Diagnosis need access to
effective health services and an equal opportunity to live and participate in
the community," says this spokeperson Shelley Bishop, Vice President, NADD
    "We are asking for the federal government's leadership to develop public
policies, training for professionals, help for families and caregivers, and
best practice research for the future. From proper diagnosis to adequate
services, this is a population whose need is great, and whose time has come,"
adds Cynthia Forster-Gibson, Chair, CARE-ID/ACREDI.

    The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's
leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH
combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health
promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and
addiction issues.
    CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan
American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.

For further information:

For further information: or to schedule an interview, please contact
Michael Torres, Media Relations, CAMH at (416) 595-6015

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