Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) are excited to announce two Saskatchewan-based Mental Health Impact Studentship recipients for the winter of 2023.
Mental Health Impact Studentships provide funding to support students through a 6-month research project on mental health that is co-supervised by both an academic supervisor and a community-based supervisor.
In total, SHRF has contributed $30,000 to this winter's Mental Health Impact Studentships.
Alexandria Pavelich | University of Saskatchewan | $15,000 Understanding If and How Therapy Dog-Handler Teams Benefit Emergency Department Patients with Mental Health Concerns
Contributed by Mental Health Research Canada (see original post) The project: Alexandria Pavelich, from the University of Saskatchewan, is conducting a project that aims to generate and mobilize knowledge about how therapy dog-handler teams can support individuals with concerns related to mental health (including substance use) within an emergency department (ED) setting to inform healthcare practices, policy, and future research.
Utilizing a methodology grounded in institutional ethnography, Alexandria and therapy dog-handler teams will be visiting with patients presenting with mental health concerns to a Saskatoon-based ED to conduct ethnographic observations and semi-structured interviews. The goal of the research is to better understand how the visit of a therapy dog-handler team may help foster a more positive ED experience for patients and staff. The participant-oriented study will begin with the standpoint of the patient as its first point of entry, and it will be the first of its kind to also explore the perspective of the therapy dog handler as it may contribute to the patient experience.
The objectives of the research will be to: (1) generate data about the relevance and impact of a unique support (therapy dog-handler team visits) for populations living with mental health concerns; (2) identify how the presence of therapy dog-handler teams can shape patients’ experiences in the ED, and may affect the ED setting; (3) mobilize knowledge to share how canine-human and human-human relations can be fostered through effective integrated and end-of-grant knowledge translation and dissemination strategies; and (4) use the knowledge generated to assist other therapy dog programs by drafting policies and practice guidelines that help foster therapy dog-handler teams’ supportive presence and visits within EDs across Canada.
About Alexandria: Alexandria R. Pavelich (BA, York University; MA, University of Saskatchewan) is a current PhD student in the department of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan, working under the supervision of the Canada Research Chair in One Health and Wellness, Dr. Colleen Anne Dell. Alexandria’s master’s work on the topic of “mattering” garnered international attention after showing that service dogs can be a catalyst in reducing suicidality among Canadian veterans living with PTSD. Her doctoral work will continue to explore the benefits of animal-assisted intervention, but in the context of emotional and physical pain within institutional settings. In the community, Alexandria continues to volunteer with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program and the Saskatchewan Pain Society where she is a patient advocate for increasing trauma-informed care policies.
Coatlicue Sierra Rose | University of Regina | $15,000 The Cultural Humility Immersive Assessment (CHIA) Project: Extended Reality, Intercultural Communication, and the Future of Healthcare in the Metaverse
Contributed by Mental Health Research Canada (see original post)
The project: Coatlicue Sierra Rose, from the University of Regina, aims to develop interculturally-sensitive communication skills in first responders.
Conducted with the support of the Saskatchewan College of Paramedics, this project seeks to add to the body of knowledge related to the effective use of virtual reality (VR) in first-responder psychiatric training centering on (1) the improvement of competencies related to intercultural communication skills and (2) the decrease of trainee stigma, fear, and self-confidence in the field in a safe, structured learning environment that is responsive to the diverse needs of the Saskatchewan acute psychiatric patients the trainees will serve. Greater cultural humility in the paramedic workforce has been shown to improve patient care and reduce barriers of access to care in marginalized populations.
The Cultural Humility Immersive Assessment (CHIA) project works to empower patients disproportionately affected by the converging crises of COVID-19, addiction, and mental health disorders by the creation of VR training modules coordinating the everyday, existential lived experience of marginalized patients with scientific knowledge.
About Coatlicue: Coatlicue Sierra Rose is a counselling psychologist with a Ph.D. in philosophy, a masters in counselling, and a B.A. in political science. She brings experience working in clinical mental health and postsecondary education and is a trauma-informed, anti-racist, intersectionally-minded psychotherapist specializing in decolonization work with fellow members of the BIPOC, LGBTQIA2S+, and disability communities. Dr. Rose is seeking to apply her experience and knowledge to the development of Canadian mental health policy aimed at increasing access to culturally-responsive mental health services to the BIPOC communities of Canada. Her research interests lie at the intersection of policy, intercultural clinical mental health practice, and immersive extended reality technology.
The Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) is the provincial funding agency that funds, supports and promotes the impact of health research that matters to Saskatchewan. SHRF collaborates with stakeholders to contribute to the growth of a high-performing health system, culture of innovation and the improved health of citizens by strengthening research capacity and competitiveness, increasing the investment in health research in Saskatchewan and aligning research with the needs of our stakeholders.
Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) is an innovative national charitable organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of Canadians by advancing mental health knowledge in an unique but important way: they ensure the fulsome engagement of people with lived experience throughout the entire research process. MHRC prides themselves on being nimble, collaborative, forward-looking and committed to excellence in all that they do.
For more information about the Mental Health Impact Studentships with Mental Health Research Canada visit MHRC's website or contact Karen Tilsley, SHRF's Director of Programs and Partnerships at firstname.lastname@example.org