The Robbie Dean Centre was established out of Robbie’s mother’s grief at losing her son due to lack of support available to help him during his depression. She wanted to do something to ensure other families in Renfrew County would not have to struggle so hard to get help in time of crisis.

After months of research and networking; the Robbie Dean Family Counselling Centre opened its doors in June of 2013 thanks to financial support from the Ottawa Valley Rotary Clubs. It is a community funded, a registered charity.

Working with existing organizations and agencies, the Robbie Dean Centre continues to develop and implement programs to close these gaps and better meet the needs of our communities. The Robbie Dean Centre is determined to enhance the quality of life of those who live in Renfrew County.

The Robbie Dean Centre is a beacon of hope for families and individuals in distress or crisis that sheds light on their journey to wellness.


Sometimes I sit on the ground and lean against a tree, with the sun on my face and wonder: “How did I get here?”  I mean how did my life go from one thing to something completely different?  How did one moment change the course of everything?  Well that is what happens when someone you love dies unexpectantly and this loss changes not only your life but the life of every member of your family.

You see, Robbie was my son.  I believe we had a pretty average life.  Robbie grew up in a home with a loving family and had everything he needed to succeed in life.  Like every family, we had our moments.  He snuck out his bedroom window one night, he sank our brand new ATV, I mean brand new, he got caught skipping school and even got caught smoking.  But we always got through those things.  We talked, we laughed, we cried, we played together, we worked hard and we hugged a lot.  So where did things go wrong? Why was he talking about ending his life?  He had it good right?  There was no reason to feel this way right?  I understand now that this is what depression can do but still today, I am not sure where this depression came from.  I do know one thing though, I felt like we were navigating this journey on our own and that was a huge part of what was wrong. You see, back in 2011 mental health services in Renfrew County for a 17 almost 18 year old youth were seriously lacking.  We ended up having to go to Ottawa to get help but it was not enough, on August 19th, 2011 we lost him to suicide.

That is the beginning of the story of the Robbie Dean Centre.  It was created to close in existing mental health service gaps in Renfrew County with a vision of being a beacon of hope for those who struggle on their way to wellness.  2011 feels like a lifetime ago and 2013 when the doors opened feels like yesterday.   Since then, the Centre has grown exponentially and continues to grow to better meet the mental health needs of those who live in the various communities of Renfrew County.

I have learned many lessons from my story and feel no shame or anguish over the loss of my son.  I have taken that part of my life journey and have decided to love harder than ever before, to cherish every small moment and to appreciate even the smallest gestures.  I think Robbie would be proud of what is being done in his name and I know that he is truly grateful to everyone who is upholding his legacy in such a meaningful way.


Robbie’s mother

About Robbie Dean

For Robbie Dean, growing up in Renfrew County meant going to a small high school, having best friends since childhood, working a part-time job, having a girlfriend and a pick-up truck and spending countless hours riding a snowmobile or ATV. However, at 17 years old he also became more and more depressed and feeling unworthy and hopeless.

This was the beginning of a year-long struggle, looking for answers, solutions, and support.

Like in many other small rural communities, a shortage of specialist physicians (35 vs. 99 per 100,000) makes accessing specialized medical support a challenge. Current mandates and policies lead to a system that is filled with gaps and is difficult to navigate. This is the system where Robbie and his family got lost.

Sadly in August of 2011, Robbie took his life just three months after his 18th birthday.