Mental Health Research Lab

Broadly speaking we conduct research that is relevant to mental health, focusing primarily on mental illness stigma. Our work has been supported by external funders including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Women's XChange. 

Mental Illness Stigma:

Stigma is an important social factor that impacts mental health and is a barrier to the efficient diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of persons with a mental illness. Treatment avoidance and poor adherence to treatment protocols are known direct effects of stigma which prolong unnecessary suffering and increase the personal and societal burden of mental illness. The burden of mental illness on the individual is often described as twofold: individuals must cope not only with their mental illness but also with stigmatization. Approximately one in five Canadians with a mental health concern believe they need treatment but do not seek it out due to fears of what others might think. This means that despite the availability of evidence-based treatments, a significant number of Canadians do not seek treatment due to the direct effect of stigma. Stigma is also associated with significant human and economic costs; it is linked to low self-esteem, impaired social relationships, a host of discriminatory behaviour, and can keep a person with mental illness from obtaining employment, housing, and other independent living opportunities. Untreated mental illness contributes to rising health care costs through repeated hospital admissions and lost productivity, with reports estimating this cost to be upwards of $20.7 billion in 2012, and projected to grow to $29.1 billion by 2030 in Canada alone. 

The overall goal of this program of research is to reduce mental illness stigma, resulting in increased access to care and reduced burden of illness for individuals living with a mental illness. 

Clinical Research and Professional Issues:

A second research area relates to clinical practice and professional issues. For example, recent projects have examined wellness and self-care, socially responsive shared governance, and ethical and professional considerations for social media use. Projects have also focused on outcome measurement and data for outpatient mental health settings and collaborated care models.