Shadi Beshai, University of Regina
Can you describe your area of research and how it is helping address a health-related issue in Saskatchewan?
Major depression and anxiety are some of the most prevalent and disabling psychological conditions among citizens of Saskatchewan. Accordingly, work in my lab (Depression Cognition and Culture Lab; DCC Lab; University of Regina) addresses three interrelated areas: a) adaption of psychological treatments for depression and anxiety to make them more appropriate for the populations they are intended to serve (e.g., Indigenous populations); b) promotion of psychological treatments for depression and anxiety so that patients and families know about them and can make an informed decision regarding whether to seek such treatments out; and c) Improving access to effective psychological treatments for depression and anxiety for those who need them.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?
The most rewarding aspects of my work include observing the positive psychological change in patients who complete our treatments, and seeing the change in people’s hearts and minds as they learn about how effective and appropriate psychotherapy can be for prevalent mental health conditions.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
The most challenging aspect of my work is wrestling with the systemic barriers (e.g., limited governmental funding) that prevent people from seeking appropriate mental care.
How did you first become interested in this area of research? What inspires you to do the work that you do?
During my undergraduate training, I learned that people from all cultures and walks of life can and do suffer from poor mental health and other forms of psychological distress. I also learned that the field of clinical psychology has made tremendous strides in designing effective treatments for some of the most common mental health disorders (depression; anxiety). However, there was a practical disconnect between these two facts: very few of those who need these psychological interventions ever seeks them out or make use of them. The gap between the need for effective treatments and the availability and uptake of them is staggering, and it is what inspires me to continue doing the work that I do.
Where is your research headed in the next five years?
I envision my work to maintain its focus on the promotion of and increasing access to effective treatments for anxiety and depression in Saskatchewan, Canada, and around the world. Further, I envision my work to play a role in the science of matching effective treatments and techniques with specific patient profiles.
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