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Couple raises $500K for new Lions Gate mental health centre
Ginny Dennehy and her husband Kerry know the effects of depression first hand. They lost their 17-year-old son, Kelty, to suicide 12 years ago and have been fighting to raise money and awareness since.
A foundation set up by the couple is donating $500,000 for a new mental health facility at Lions Gate Hospital in an effort to provide support for young people with depression and change common perceptions of the disease.
Through the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation, they have raised $4 million for suicide prevention programs, a mental health facility at BC Children’s Hospital and other services.
The facility at Lions Gate Hospital is their latest project.
Construction has begun on the new $62-million mental health facility, which will replace the hospital’s aging inpatient psychiatric until that was built in the 1920s.
“Our lofty, big goal is to have a resource centre in every province and territory of Canada,” said Dennehy, who was awarded a Golden Jubilee Medal this month for her contribution to health care.
The new four-storey mental health facility, named the HOpe Centre after another donor, will have 26 private rooms and is expected to decrease wait times. Slated to open early next year, the building will also be used as a training space for UBC medial students.
Their son’s friends, family and doctors were never able to understand or manage Kelty’s depression. His depression and anxiety got worse while away at high school in Saskatchewan but it continued when he came back home.
In 2009, the Dennehy family experienced another loss when their 23-year-old daughter Riley, who struggled with the loss of her brother for years, passed away suddenly from pain medication in Thailand.
“We started with [BC Children’s Hospital] because Kelty was a child,” Dennehy told The Outlook. They tackled Lions Gate Hospital next because the family is from Whistler, which is in the catchment area.
“Depression is a disease like any other disease,” said Dennehy, who is cycling across Canada with her husband on their first national campaign “Enough is Enough,” an initiative to remove stigma associated with mental illness. They plan to begin in Newfoundland on May 12 and end in Whistler mid-August.