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A “Drab” CAMH Clinic Gets a Free Makeover From Interior Designers

A Parkdale mental-health clinic is now a little nicer inside.

A shot of the clinic recreation area after the renovation.

A “drab, dull” Centre for Addiction and Mental Health facility has been transformed to a feng shui dream thanks to a team of volunteer interior designers.

A unique collaboration between the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario and CAMH has seen the complete revamp of the Archway Clinic, at 1451 Queen Street West in Parkdale. It’s an outpatient clinic where about 20 staff and doctors treat people with complex mental illness.

It all came about through CAMH’s corporate volunteer program.

“We get a lot of big firms looking to be corporate volunteers,” said CAMH’s corporate volunteer coordinator, Jim Davey.

“We try to create opportunities that will fit for them. The program really has an impact on the volunteers and our clients, and helps to break down the stigma around mental health.”

So, when Sharon Portelli, lead designer with ARIDO, asked for some ideas, Davey thought the Archway outpatient clinic would be a good place to bring her.

“It was a drab, grey, dull, place and really not conducive to the work being carried out,” said Davey. “I knew it was in desperate need of a refresh, so when I heard interior designers wanted to volunteer with us, I thought this could be something. When I brought Sharon inside I could immediately see the look on her face. She said, ‘we have to do something about this’.”

And she did, by motivating a team of designers to revamp the space.

A room in the clinic, before the renovation.

“The existing space was not supportive of the services being offered,” Portelli says.

“It wasn’t welcoming, and was really dated. It had a 1970s look, and as we walked around it was a concern to see that the important work was not being supported by the environment.”

The building—a two-storey complex with staff offices, an activity room, and counsellor rooms—was remodeled on a completely voluntary basis. Among the improvements were new floors, new paint, new furniture, new computers, and a new TV.

The redesign began in April, and the finishing touches were finessed this week.

Over the course of the seven months, volunteers worked on weekends and in the evenings when the clinic was closed, so they wouldn’t interrupt its work.

“We feel it now meets healthcare standards and is a comfortable, welcoming space,” Portelli said. “It’s a more calming place to be for clients, much more welcoming and positive. They are proud to be a part of it.”

Davey contends that the partnership is the pinnacle of what can be achieved through CAMH’s corporate volunteer program.

“If you want to see a community at work, look at this space. About 39 different vendors donated and contributed to this project and it is benefitting the whole community. We are very grateful to Sharon for mobilizing her people to do this.”

One client suffering from depression summed it up: “I enjoy the space more. It’s a much healthier atmosphere. Change is a good thing, and we have to change our lives, too.”

Photos by Yianni Tong Photography.

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