As one year draws to a close and the next begins, it’s an annual Reading of the Week tradition to weigh in on the best of the past 12 months.

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Essay of the Year

“To Hell and Back: Alcoholism, addiction and the lessons they taught me”

Toronto Star reporter Jim Coyle describes his decades’ long struggle with alcohol. Raw, moving, poignant. It’s simply one of the best essays I’ve ever read on addiction.

Book of the Year

A Life in Psychiatry: Looking Out, Looking In

Dr. Garkfinkel’s autobiography is about his life and his life in psychiatry. I’ve run excerpts of his book in the Reading of the Week twice, and a third is likely in the next few months. A must read.

Signed copies are available through Caversham Booksellers.

Paper of the Year: Health Services

“Universal coverage without universal access: a study of psychiatrist supply and practice patterns in Ontario”

Paul Kurdyak is quickly establishing himself as a rock star health researcher and this paper shows why — quickly and simply, he and his co-authors consider access problems in Ontario, in part precipitated by practice habits of psychiatrists. Thought provoking.

Paper of the Year: Clinical Practice

“Depressive Symptoms and Physical Activity During 3 Decades in Adult Life: Bidirectional Associations in a Prospective Cohort Study”

This JAMA Psychiatry paper is clunky and slow. It’s also really important. Pereira et al. draw on decades worth of data showing that exercise reduces depressive symptoms and seems to prevent depressive episodes.

Good News Story of the Year: Medicine Hat and Homelessness

“Medicine Hat’s Ted Clugston, ‘the mayor who ended homelessness’”

Ted Clugston

A September Reading considered Housing First — a policy re-think for the problem of homelessness.

Here’s a nice follow-up: Medicine Hat is on the cusp of ending homelessness using a Housing First approach.

Person of the Year: Clara Hughes

Clara Hughes

She’s a four-time Olympic medalist. She’s also an incredible advocate for those with mental illness. Clara Hughes’ Big Ride covered 12,000 km in 110 days, with appearances in 95 communities to raise awareness.


Op Ed of the Year

“Mental illness: A depressing failure of public policy”

Well, I am biased, but the central point is important: as the curtain of stigma slowly lifts, we need to take a hard look at the way we handle mental health. Our public policy is a failure.

Reading of the Week. Every week I pick a reading — often an article or a paper — from the world of Psychiatry.