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Dr. Yona Lunsky

Episode #12: Better Together

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Yona Lunsky, Ph.D., C.Psych, joins us to discuss creating space for patient partners in research, barriers to care for individuals with developmental disabilities, her personal connection to her work, and so much more!


Dr. Lunsky is the Director of the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre, and the Health Care Access Research and Developmental Disabilities (H-CARDD) Program at CAMH. She is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and Adjunct Scientist at Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), and has focused her research on the mental health needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families. Dr. Lunsky is the principal investigator of several studies examining clinical and systems issues related to health services. She is also involved in a number of projects focused on improving primary, emergency and mental health care. In more recent years she has become more involved in a number of partnership projects bringing together both researchers and clinicians with people with disabilities and their families to design innovative approaches to improving health care.



  • The Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

  • Patient-oriented research, engaging with stakeholders about improving health care and research priorities

  • Incorporating patient and family advisors into research and clinical care in accessible ways

  • Finding ways to translate what works in pediatric care (family-centered models) to the adult world to support those with intellectual and developmental disabilities

  • Barriers to accessing good care

  • The need for the option for clinicians working with adults to do additional specialized training in developmental disabilities in Canada

  • The training provided at University Centres of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities in the U.S.

  • The importance of terminology: learning disability (UK) vs. learning disability (Canada)

  • Mental health concerns and developmental disabilities: important considerations and knowing “your normal”

  • Thinking more broadly about accessibility

  • Diagnostic overshadowing

  • Dr. Lunsky’s personal connection to her research and clinical work

  • Eunice Shriver and the Kennedy family’s role in the development of the University Centres for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and the Special Olympics

  • Growing her research program

  • Trying to follow your passion, regardless of whether the position currently exists or if you have to create new roads

  • The importance of figuring out how to integrate the different parts of yourself into your work in a way that feels rights and true for you




Full transcript of this episode coming soon.