Canadians of All Ages Urged to Get Mental Health Checkup

Cognitive Test Considered as Important as a Physical

NEWS RELEASE - April 23, 2012

Toronto - Canadians must be far more proactive to protect their mental health, according to a University of Toronto professor, who believes that cognitive testing is an important component in maintaining a healthy well being at any age.

“As the focus shifts to preventative medicine in healthcare, cognitive testing is just as important as a physical, oral checkup, or screen for diseases such as breast, prostate or colon cancer,” said U of T, Scarborough, Psychology Professor Dr. Konstantine Zakzanis, as part of the effort to promote mental health, during Canadian Mental Health Week.

“The reality is that problems with cognition can result from a multitude of contributory factors at all ages,” Zakzanis, added. “Problems with memory and concentration for example, can impact our ability to work, complete school, or engage in our activities of daily living such as cooking and caregiving. Research suggests that concussions, learning disorders, certain medications, and other mental health issues such as Attention Deficit Disorder and even depression, can all impact cognition, and that’s why it’s so important for Canadians, at any age, to have their cognitive acuity tested.”

In some instances, early detection of cognitive impairment can help aid in the diagnosis of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and in turn, help clinicians initiate treatment to slow the progression of cognitive decline.

To raise awareness about the importance of a mental health check, the Hemisphere Centre for Mental Health and Wellness is encouraging Canadians, aged 10 and up, to take BRAINscreen. It’s a 15-minute online cognitive screening test, available at no cost, from April 23rd to May 23rd. BRAINscreen is available in 10 languages, and provides instant results to the user.

The Hemisphere Centre will donate $1,000 to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, on behalf of the first one thousand Canadians who take BrainScreen by going to:

“Cognitive impairment is a growing concern for Canadians of all ages,” said Scott Knight, Executive Director of the Hemisphere Centre for Mental Health and Wellness. “BRAINscreen serves as an early warning system to encourage Canadians who might need treatment to get it sooner by seeing their doctor.”

• Half a million Canadians have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. That’s 71,000 Canadians under the age of 65, and 1 in 11 Canadians over the age of 65. By 2025, that number is expected to more than double;

• The World Health Organization describes dementia as “a ticking time bomb” as a new case of dementia is diagnosed globally, every 4 seconds;

• As many as 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder;

• More than 30,000 sports-related concussions occur each year in Canada, with soccer considered the leading cause of sports-related concussions among high-school age girls.

About BRAINscreen

Developed by the Hemisphere Centre for Mental Health & Wellness, BRAINscreen is a screening tool developed to identify cognitive impairment. BRAINscreen is patent pending, scientifically validated, and available in 10 languages to users, making it the first test of its kind in North America.


About Hemisphere Centre

The Hemisphere Centre for Mental Health and Wellness and BRAINscreen specifically, is a collaborative project designed to aid in the identification of cognitive impairment. Combining assessment best practices and evidence-based research, the Hemisphere Centre is focused on delivering products, like BRAINscreen, and related services for improving the Mental Health of Canadians by way of developing scientifically robust, and easily accessible tools and services that can be used by the general public.

For Further Information Contact:

Danna O’Brien
Playbook Communications