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Asima Vezina and Sarita Verma Signing Agreement
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Algoma University and NOSM University Sign Collaboration Agreement to Address Mental Health and Addictions Challenges

Leaders from Algoma University (AU) and NOSM University have signed a collaboration agreement that sets the stage for an increased NOSM University presence on Algoma’s Sault Ste. Marie campus, primarily to help expand mental health and addictions research and training initiatives.

Through this collaboration, Algoma and NOSM University are committed to establishing a presence that responds to community needs related to mental health and addiction through focused research, medical education and training programs, clinical experience and health-based systems of prevention, treatment and healing with particular focus on the unique Northern Ontario and rural health needs.

“The agreement provides an opportunity for our faculty and researchers to collaborate directly with NOSM University to further advance the establishment of a Mental Health and Addictions Research and Training Institute at Algoma aimed at improving care for patients, families, and communities while enhancing interdisciplinary mental illness education and training programs,” shared Asima Vezina, President and Vice-Chancellor of Algoma University. “The Institute will expand addictions and mental health research that is informed in treating trauma-related mental health illness through cross-cultural approaches and multi-world views including what we are learning from community wellness in local and global Indigenous communities.”

“Sault Ste. Marie has long been a valued partner as our third largest teaching site in the North,” says Dr. Sarita Verma, President, Vice-Chancellor, Dean and CEO of NOSM University. “This collaboration with Algoma University further builds on our successes, capitalizes on our current assets and capacity, and leverages our excellent partnerships.”

The region is facing a range of mental health and addiction-related challenges, as exemplified by recent public health data which indicates rates of hospitalization for mental illness or additions within the Algoma district are 200% higher than in other parts of Ontario. In addition, rates of opioid-related deaths of 22.7 per 100,000 population are more than double the provincial average and rates of addiction to dangerous drugs (e.g., fentanyl) are increasing.

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