Building a better future for mental health

Seven years ago, Ahmed Nasim began working at the TD Canada Trust branch at Queen St.W. and Ossington Ave. in downtown Toronto.

The neighbourhood branch is used by staff and patients of the nearby Centre For Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), one of Canada's leading mental health research and treatment facilities. As a new employee at this local branch, Nasim wasn't sure what to expect but felt confident he could create a welcoming environment for the community.  

"I've come to realize that the best thing I can do—and what I always think is a good approach to life in general—is to treat every customer the way I would want to be treated: with concern, kindness, patience and empathy," said Nasim.

Fast forward seven years, and Nasim has gotten to know the staff and patients at CAMH very well (he's affectionately referred to as the “Mayor” of the branch by colleagues and customers) and is thankful to have learned so much through his experiences at work. 

“No day is ever the same and I wouldn't want to work anywhere else,” said Nasim. "I always look for ways to connect with the community to help make my customers' day a little better. And that's what makes me excited to come to work every day." 

Making space for recovery and well-being

And now Nasim has even more reason to feel a special connection to his branch after TD recently announced a landmark donation—more than $20 million—to CAMH which will be applied to fuel research discoveries, contribute to care programs, and to help break down stigmas surrounding mental illness and addiction.

As Canada's premiere mental health research and treatment facility, CAMH (which treats more than 34,000 patients a year) is influencing the way Canadians think about mental health and leading the conversations needed to bring mental health treatment and addictions care into a new era.

Through groundbreaking research and important program offerings including youth addictions groups and outpatient programs for geriatric patients living with psychiatric issues, CAMH aims to revolutionize the understanding of mental illness.

The hospital and campus close to the branch where Nasim works is also being updated to better reflect the needs of the centre and surrounding community. Two new buildings—the McCain Centre for Complex Care and Recovery Building and the Crisis and Critical Care Building—are in development and will house 235 beds for patients living with the most complex mental illnesses.

TD's donation—which is one of the single largest corporate gifts CAMH has received to date—will also be physically commemorated on the CAMH grounds with the re-naming of a revitalized green space at CAMH's Queen St.W. and Ossington Ave. site.  

Named TD Commons Park, this new green space set to open in 2020 is part of CAMH's redevelopment project and will be a place for CAMH patients, staff and the surrounding community to enjoy and focus on recovery. This notable greenspace is symbolic of TD's The Ready Commitment and its aim to focus on four areas of change (financial security, a vibrant planet, connected communities, and better health) that when addressed together can help people feel more confident about the future.

Impacting colleagues and communities 

Tina Coppola, Branch Manager of the Queen St.W. and Ossington Ave. branch, says she is proud of the donation. 

“It's great to be part of such a caring organization that embraces mental health and its awareness,” said Coppola. “Working at this branch, we all become part of a community—a family—and it makes me feel so thankful that TD is supporting the community. We feel that this donation is going to positively impact lives in a significant way.”

So significant is the experience working at this TD branch, that Nasim believes some of the lessons he's learned at work have had a positive impact on his family life as well.

“I have learned so much from my customers about compassion because there's no one-size-fits-all solution when dealing with someone who may be struggling," said Nasim, adding that he regularly encourages members of his family to be open about any personal issues.

"I'm very thankful that I work at this TD branch and with this community every day."