Our History of Serving Ontario

The Ontario Mental Health Foundation was established by the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Mental Health Foundation Act in 1962 by a Special Act of Legislature.

Timeline Highlights

1962:  A Special Act of the Ontario Legislature establishes The Ontario Mental Health Foundation, under the leadership of Justice Arthur Kelly, who also makes a sizable donation to the organization.

1963:  The OMHF creates a separate corporation to operate a psychiatric institution – the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in honour of Dr. C.K. Clarke. Awards grants for the first time: $328,000 ($2.4 million in 2015) for 33 researchers.

1964:  Establishes Research Associateship (Senior Fellowship) and Educational Associateship (Research Training Fellowship) programs.

1966:  Establishes Travelling Fellowship program.

1968:  Provides funds to support mental health scientists who are refugees from Czechoslovakia.

1972:  Sets up, funds and publishes an Annual Register of Mental Health Research to highlight the important work being done in Ontario and note under-researched areas in mental health.

1973:  Commissions a feasibility study of the areas of mental health research that hold the most promise.

1975:  Sponsors four scientific cluster meetings in: abnormal child development, affective disorders, schizophrenia, and evaluation of the mental health care delivery system.

1976:  Receives funding from the Ontario Lottery ($600,000).

1981:  Establishes Peer Review Committees for grants and fellowships, to review applications for scientific merit and relevance.

1990:  Plans, manages and funds the first Ontario Mental Health Survey. Also creates and funds special grant competition for applications to analyze the results of this survey.

1997:  Partners in and oversees a five-year, multi-site project, Community Mental Health Evaluation Initiative (CMHEI), to evaluate aspects of Ontario’s community mental health system. This project is the most significant body of research on community mental health carried out in Ontario and perhaps in Canada.

2001:  Develops a Special Initiatives Program to support large-scale projects to generate discoveries in therapies for psychotic illnesses. Funds three multi-year projects solely: Epigenetics of Schizophrenia, Dr. Arturas Petronis; Decoding Schizophrenia, Dr. Sajit Kapur; and Early Intervention in Schizophrenia, Dr. Jean Addington.

2004:  Supports (with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care) a major, multi-year project to address the issue of women and depression.

2005:  Is a founding partner and oversees a multi-year, multi-site research project, System Enhancement Evaluation Initiative (SEEI), to evaluate the outcome of increased funding for community mental health programs.

2012: Dr. Heather Stuart, a past OMHF funded researcher and current OMHF board member, becomes the world’s first Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair.

2013:  Dr. Jeff Daskalakis, a long-time OMHF-funded researcher, receives the Dr. Samarthji Lal award from the Graham Boeckh Foundation. The award honours a Canadian researcher in the area of psychiatry, with a focus on major mental disorders, who is mid-career and making an outstanding contribution to the field.

2014:  Becomes member of International Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders.

2015:  In a study of global mental health research funding, Rand Europe identifies the OMHF as the sixth most productive funder of mental health research in Canada and in the top 100 worldwide.

The OMHF collaborates with five Canadian mental health research funders to fund the first Canada-wide project on valid and reliable performance indicators for Canadian mental health services. Relevant, accurate and timely performance information is critical for improving the performance of mental health care systems. 

2016:  Implements new Strategic Plan that focuses on priority-driven mental health research.