This past October, as BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) gathered for its annual AGM, we took the opportunity to recognize Dr. Mahesh Menon for all the work he’s done in advancing people’s understanding of cognitive losses and the treatments available.

BCSS Board Member, Susan Inman, presented this year’s award and proudly spoke of Dr. Menon’s acheivements.

“I am thrilled to be able to present this year’s BCSS Champion Award to Dr. Mahesh Menon.

Before I tell you exactly why Dr. Menon is especially deserving of this award, let me tell you a bit more about who he is. Dr. Menon  grew up in India and received his Bachelor’s and PhD in Psychology at the University of Cambridge in the UK. He then did a research and clinical fellowship at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He continued on as a faculty member at the University of Toronto before he started his current position at UBC Hospital. This position includes working at the BC Psychosis Program.

Dr. Menon is a Registered Psychologist and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UBC. His research focuses on understanding the cognitive mechanisms and brain networks associated with the symptoms of psychosis – and on understanding the role of psychotherapy in improving these symptoms.

Recently, he was a recipient of the 2021 Innovation and Translational Research Award from the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. This award is for his work on addressing persistent auditory hallucinations with virtual reality-based avatar therapy.

Today, we are honouring Dr. Menon for his extraordinary contributions in promoting cognitive remediation therapy. This is the therapy that helps the many people with schizophrenia whose illnesses have created significant cognitive losses. Cognitive losses are the biggest factor in the widespread disability of this population.

 I know that many of you attended the sold out 2017 conference that the BCSS initiated on Bringing Cognitive Remediation to British Columbia. To create this conference, the BCSS collaborated with the BC Psychosis Program, BC Early Psychosis Intervention, and BC Psychosocial Rehabilitation. Representatives from these four organizations continued to meet over the next two years.  This group created various plans for implementing cognitive remediation, but efforts were not moving forward.

Now comes the part of the story that shows us what makes a champion. Dr. Menon decided to move things forward himself. Last year, he worked to organize a remote training program for clinicians; the training was led by Dr. Christopher Bowie, who is a Canadian and international expert in cognitive remediation.

Many clinicians have been waiting and wanting to better understand the cognitive deficits they are seeing and clearly want to be able to help their clients. Even though clinicians had to finance this training themselves, over 50 clinicians representing all of BC’s health authorities arranged to participate in this training. They are now in the process, under the guidance of Dr. Menon, of trying to implement programs across the province. Perhaps many of you can help let service providers know that cognitive remediation is very much needed.

Today, the BCSS is recognizing you, Dr. Menon, with its Champion Award. It’s given to people who have played an essential role in promoting its vision of a province, where those living with schizophrenia, receive excellent treatment and services.

I hope people will join me in remotely applauding Dr. Menon for his extraordinary contribution.”

Here are some additional resources for people to learn more about cognitive losses and the treatments currently available in BC, including the BC pilot sites for cognitive remediation therapy.