(Toronto, May 8, 2019) – Two Western University students will receive $5,000 each from the first-ever research fellowship program of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division.
CMHA Ontario selected Western epidemiology and biostatistics doctoral students Jordan Edwards and Klajdi Puka on the strength of their ongoing research about mood and anxiety disorders in migrant populations and the long-term mental health implications of childhood-onset epilepsy.
“There’s a significant need for more mental health research in Canada, and we’re thrilled to support Jordan and Klajdi in their important studies, which we believe will contribute to long-term mental health quality improvement outcomes,” said CMHA Ontario CEO Camille Quenneville. “Our goal from the outset of this fellowship program was to invest in the advancement of front-line services in our province and we’re confident the projects we’ve selected and the individuals we’re supporting will produce valuable results.”
Edwards’ research will analyze the relationships between mood and anxiety disorders and migrant populations in Canada, and how they’re influenced by risk factors such as social marginalization, material deprivation or migrant class. His objectives are to assess whether the prevalence of self-reported mood and anxiety disorders are consistent with diagnosed rates of these disorders in immigrant and refugee populations in Ontario, and to compare the incidence of these disorders between migrant, refugee and long-term resident populations in Ontario. His research will help identify high-risk groups and can be used by policy and decision makers to improve mental health services for Canadian immigrant and refugee populations.
Puka’s goals are to identify, at the time of diagnosis, children with epilepsy and their parents who will be at risk of poor mental health outcomes and increase access to mental health care for these individuals. The research will address the long-term trajectory of children with epilepsy’s quality of life and their parents’ depressive symptoms, as well as what clinical and psychosocial characteristics are predictive of these long-term trajectories. This information will allow future interventions to be targeted to the most vulnerable subgroups. Puka estimates that more than 15,000 youth with epilepsy in Ontario stand to benefit from targeted interventions.
CMHA Ontario’s first fellowship program was open to Western University doctoral students in public health, clinical sciences, health policy, epidemiology or related fields. Applicants had to be enrolled full-time in a thesis-based doctoral degree program at Western and be in good standing. The research priorities outlined by CMHA Ontario included mental health and addictions, access to mental health/addictions care, and mental health and justice. The fellowships were awarded based on the quality of the project, achievements of the applicant and potential impact in Ontario. Award recipients will present their projects at a local CMHA branch.
This fellowship was emulated after a similar mental health research scholarship for graduate students offered by CMHA Newfoundland and Labrador. That program, which was implemented in 2009 after a successful pilot in 2008, has funded 10 projects over 10 years. CMHA Ontario intends for this program to set the foundation for future research investments in its effort to improve quality of mental health and addictions care for all Ontarians.
- Epilepsy Ontario says suicide rates among people with epilepsy are five times higher than the average.
- Research suggests that 15-18 per cent of all refugees who come to Canada require mental health clinical intervention to help them address trauma.
- Up to 80 per cent of children with epilepsy have cognitive/psychiatric comorbidities, while up to 50 per cent of parents are at risk for depression.
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is a not-for-profit, charitable organization funded by the provincial Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. We work to improve the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration and continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addictions services. Our vision is a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. We are a trusted advisor to government, contributing to health systems development through policy formulation and recommendations that promote positive mental health. Our 30 local CMHA branches, together with community-based mental health and addictions service providers across the province, serve approximately 500,000 Ontarians each year.
For more information, contact:
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
T: 416-977-5580, ext. 4175