Dr. Stan Kutcher, a professor in Dalhousie Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, has been named to the Senate of Canada.
He was among four new appointments announced last week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He’ll serve as an independent senator representing Nova Scotia.
The Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health at Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre, Dr. Kutcher is the former director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Mental Health Policy and Training at Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre. In 2014, he was inducted into the Order of Nova Scotia.
Dr. Kutcher says he was “gobsmacked” to receive the phone call from the Prime Minister informing him of his appointment to the Senate, but he didn’t have much time to reflect on the news.
“I was leading a training program with the Pan American Health Organization in Belize when I got the call,” he says. “We had a good chat, then I called my wife to share the news. Then I went right back to work.”
He says stepping out of a training session to take the phone call in “brilliant, hot sunshine with Christmas carols in the background” made getting the news all the more surreal.
Improving the lives of young people
The chance to help shape public policy led to his decision to apply to the Senate.
“I’ve spent my whole professional career working to try to improve the lives of young people and their families,” says Dr. Kutcher. “I’ve done that through research, administration, service delivery and, most recently, through education. The area that I’ve not yet had an opportunity to really dig into has been the level of policy development.
“It’s important that all public policy, not just health policy or health-related policy, be based on the best available evidence so that decisions aren’t made in a data-free zone.”
Dr. Kutcher says that that commitment to basing decisions on the best available evidence is one of the main things he’ll bring to the Senate, along with a “mental health perspective that cuts across all boundaries” and over 20 years of international experience.
Representing Nova Scotia
A Hamilton, Ontario native who moved to Nova Scotia in the mid 1990s after completing medical school at McMaster University and residency training in psychiatry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Kutcher is proud to represent his adopted province in the Senate.
“This appointment gives me an opportunity to improve the lives of young people in my home province, and by extension, all of Canada.”
The Senate appointment caps a year filled with recognition for Dr. Kutcher. In May, he was named among the 2018 Champions of Mental Health by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, and in September he received the Naomi Rae-Grant Award from the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for his efforts to improve mental health literacy in schools.
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