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Three UM researchers to work with community partners to address mental health needs of overlooked populations

January 27, 2021 — 

Three University of Manitoba professors have received Partnership Engage Grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to investigate mental health matters specific to overlooked and under-studied populations.

These grants provide short-term and timely support for partnered research activities that will inform decision-making at a single partner organization from the public, private or not-for-profit sector.

The three UM professors are:

Tracey Bone

Tracey Bone

Tracey Bone, Faculty of Social Work, received $17,234 in funding for her project “Exploring the complex mental health and program access needs of Deaf and hard of hearing Manitobans”

Like the hearing population, members of the Deaf community require access to mental health services. However, while there is a prolific body of literature on mental health service provision among the hearing population, there is a comparative lack of understanding of mental health service needs provision among the Deaf population. This is problematic for two reasons. First, there is reason to believe that mental health issues may in fact be more prevalent among members the Deaf community. Second, members of the Deaf community are more likely to face unique barriers to access due to their use of a signed language. This disconnect between the signed language of the Deaf person and the spoken/written English used by the hearing professional creates obstacles for the Deaf person in seeking appropriate mental health assessment and intervention.

Building on an existing partnership with Manitoba Possible, a government-funded program providing services to Deaf and hard of hearing youth and adults in Manitoba, the current project will seek to better understand the mental health program needs of the Deaf and hard of hearing population in Manitoba and to identify capacity-building strategies for Manitoba Possible so they are better equipped to meet those needs.

Emily Cameron

Emily Cameron

Emily Cameron, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology, received $25,000 in funding for her project, “Building BRIDGEs: Adapting parent wellness supports for families of children with developmental and mental health needs at KIDTHINK Inc.”

Neurodevelopmental disorders and delays (NDDs), such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, are the most frequently diagnosed disability in children, accounting for 7 to 14 per cent of children in developed countries. Developmental concerns emerge early, providing an opportunity to provide support to families long before a diagnosis may occur. Due to the importance of caregivers in young children’s development, early exposure to parent psychosocial distress is a central risk factor for the emergence of children’s own developmental problems. Furthermore, children with developmental delays are more likely to have co-occurring mental health and behavioral problem, which often increases parent stress and negative parent-child interactions.

This new project will determine the psychosocial, emotional, and parenting needs of caregivers of children referred to a community agency serving families using a mixed-method study design. It will also create a novel-adaptation of an existing mental wellness and parenting program for families of young children with developmental concerns.

Current service options for supporting parent wellness in the context of NDDs are highly limited and have minimal capacity to adequately address the significant unmet support needs of families. This project will directly address this gap by testing an innovative dual-generation program. Successful outcomes from this project have the potential to inform the development of comprehensive family wellness strategy for maternal well-being in Manitoba, Canada and the world.

Kristin Reynolds

Kristin Reynolds

Kristin Reynolds, Department of Psychology, received $24,626 in funding for her project “Engaging Community-University Partnerships to Meet the Needs of Staff and Management Working at the Frontline of Long-Term Care in Central Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Long-term care facilities have experienced one of the biggest impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 81 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths occurring in long-term care. Emergent research from the US and China have shown that long-term care staff and management are at great risk for work-related burn-out or compassion fatigue. Similar research does not exist in the Canadian context to date.

To rectify this, in the summer of 2020 Professor Reynolds’s research team partnered with Sara Riel Inc., which provides community-based support to persons who experience issues with mental illness or mental health challenges. The research group has since completed an online needs assessment survey with over 70 Manitoban staff and management in long-term care facilities, and have found elevated rates of perceived stress and caregiver burden, and reduced rates of self-compassion.

This new SSHRC funding will expand this project to further develop and evaluate online workshops that can address the specific needs of long-term care staff as informed by the initial needs assessment survey research.

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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