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Murphy family donates landmark $10 million to mental health at Sunnybrook

November 16, 2017


The stigma of mental illness is one of the main reasons people don’t seek help when they need it. But, each day, in small and large ways, actions are being taken to bring about a more compassionate and respectful understanding of mental illness. Glenn and Stacey Murphy and their children are doing that in a powerful and personal way. With a gift of $10 million, they will create the Murphy Family Centre for Mental Health and build a new home for the Family Navigation Project team at Sunnybrook. By putting their name on this centre for psychiatric care, the Murphy family is making public their deep personal commitment to ensuring that people with mental illnesses receive leading-edge mental health care.

“Mental illness should not be approached any differently than other medical conditions,” says Stacey Murphy. “It should be treated like any other illness — whether that’s heart disease, cancer or diabetes. We have absolute confidence in Sunnybrook’s vision, and it is our hope that with this gift, we will reduce the stigma that prevents many from getting the help they need and deserve.”

In this new state-of-the-art 27,000 square foot space within the new Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre, mental illnesses will be treated with the same dignity, respect and understanding as other brain disorders like stroke or dementia. The Centre’s inpatient units for adults and youth will offer advanced clinical facilities that include home-like private suites, a gym, a classroom, and an outdoor courtyard.

In establishing this new unit, the Murphy family wants to send a message that they support families in our community struggling with mental illness. “If you ask almost anyone, they have either personally or someone close to them has experienced a mental health challenge,” Glenn Murphy says. “With this gift we are supporting Sunnybrook's goal of aiding families in need.”

Glenn and Stacey are close friends of Sunnybrook, whose passion is reflected by Stacey’s membership on the Foundation Board, and Glenn’s involvement in the Family Navigation Project as Chair of the Sustainability Committee. This milestone investment brings the project within reach of the $62 million needed to break ground for the 60,000 square foot Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre.

Dr. Anthony Levitt, Chief of Sunnybrook’s Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program, says the Murphy Family Foundation’s investment will help Sunnybrook’s experts work collaboratively to better understand and find new ways of treating brain disorders. “We are deeply grateful to the Murphy family for their generous gift. The Murphy Family Centre for Mental Health will allow our brain scientists and clinicians to provide patient-centred care in a modern, integrated facility, all designed to promote healing and recovery for our patients.”

Mr. and Mrs. Murphy’s gift was inspired by Sunnybrook’s conviction that in order to gain a 360 degree understanding of brain disorders, the hospital must integrate the centres of excellence for brain health currently scattered around the campus. The Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre will link each field of brain sciences — psychiatry, neurology, neuro-imaging, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, otology and neuro-pharmacology — in an effort to accelerate research that will slow or perhaps even stop the devastation of brain disorders. By integrating psychiatry and the other brain sciences, Sunnybrook is changing how the world thinks about mental illness.

The relocation of Sunnybrook’s inpatient psychiatry unit to the Murphy Family Centre for Mental Health will open the door to a new home for the Family Navigation Project (FNP) — another program close to the Murphys’ heart.

Established in 2013, the FNP has assisted over 2,000 families of youth ages 13-26 struggling with mental health and addiction issues find the most appropriate services for their needs. Over the past four years, our navigators have created a comprehensive network for struggling families by establishing relationships with over 920 treatment and service providers, centres and programs, both locally and nationally.

Families in need of help can reach out to the FNP by phone or email. They will be paired with a clinical navigator who will take a detailed history, asking the family about their concerns, services accessed to date and the goals of the family and youth. Our navigators are adept at both identifying the most appropriate resources for the family and facilitating access. With a dedicated partner engaging with the family and youth along the path to recovery, families feel supported through their journey. The program is the largest of its kind in Canada.

Part of the Murphy family’s gift will be used to create modern facilities for FNP on a second-floor space in F-Wing vacated by inpatient psychiatry.

Dr. Jon S. Dellandrea, president and CEO of Sunnybrook Foundation, says that Sunnybrook’s vision of a collaborative, state-of-the-art brain sciences centre is coming to life through philanthropy. “The Murphy family’s investment will enable us to improve the lives of thousands of families by advancing our understanding, treatment and care of mental illnesses. We thank them for sharing our vision for inventing the future of health care.”

Sunnybrook’s Garry Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program is finding answers to the most challenging brain disorders of today. Sunnybrook’s experts are leaders in new and novel minimally-invasive brain treatments (including focused ultrasound), for Alzheimer’s disease, stroke prevention and care, and youth mental illness, among many other fields. Sunnybrook is the largest single-site hospital in Canada, with 1.2 million patient visits annually and $100 million of research funding each year.


Media contact:
Nadia Norcia Radovini
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre