Finch Auto Group President donates $5M for mental health research

The President of Finch Auto Group personally donated $5 million to a London, Ont.,  hospital for mental health research. Ryan Finch, whose company is headquartered in London, recently made the landmark donation to St. Joseph’s Health Care because he feels mental health is an important part of society and the workplace.

The donation is the largest to support mental health care research in Southwestern Ontario. Some 10 years ago, Finch put in place an employee assistance plan, providing round-the-clock access for anyone in the company battling mental health issues. “It really opened my eyes to just how many people are struggling among us,” said Finch in an interview with Canadian auto dealer.

His company subsequently sponsored a program called Breakfast of Champions that has raised about $1 million every year for mental health.

“If you’ve got mental health issues, you should be able to receive the same treatments as someone who was bleeding badly and needed stitches…and yet mental health still has the stigma around it,” said Finch. “I kind of wanted to stay on the right side of that issue and I want to help the community.”

In recognition of the donation, the hospital named its mental health care building the Finch Family Mental Health Care Building.

“I was happy to be somebody that was pushing (for) mental health support, and it felt really good,” said Finch. “It was a great decision when I made it a year or two ago. Leading up to the event, (it) was a bit nerve-wracking. I don’t usually have a problem with public speaking, but this one was very personal.”

He said mental health is a real opportunity for employers to help their company overall. “It’s about helping people first and foremost, but from a business-person’s perspective, maybe you could get something in return because your team is happier and healthier,” said Finch.

“I see mental health as a real opportunity and that’s kind of why I connected my wagon to it ten years ago. That evolution from then until this donation has been incremental steps, and then eventually we saw the light and said, ‘Let’s do this.’” Finch said the money that he has donated will go to research to develop more ways of helping people who are struggling with mental health.

“Mental health affects every family, I don’t think you could find a family that escapes it,” he added. “In my immediate family, we haven’t had any significant mental health hurdles, but to say that it hasn’t touched my family — it certainly has. It’s touched everybody’s family.”

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