Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, and Director, Mental Health Strategy, University of Calgary

Currently, most of my time is taken up with the implementation of the University of Calgary Campus Mental Health Strategy. The Campus Mental Health Strategy is the university’s bold commitment to the mental health and well-being of the campus community. Though 28 recommendations, the strategy’s vision is to create a caring campus community where we can support others and receive support as needed, and individually and collectively thrive.

Although I am busy with the strategy, I am still engaged in various research projects and have an active lab. My research interests can be broadly divided into three areas:

My first research area is a blending of my current interest in the stigma of mental illness and my general interest in social psychology (given my training as a social psychologist). For example, I am conducting studies examining the application of intergroup prejudice findings to the mental disorders stigma domain, such as the use of the Implicit Association Test or prejudice-related measures as moderators of negative attitudes towards people with mental illnesses. Other research falling within this category include current studies on the effects of media representations on stigmatizing attitudes and personality correlates of such negative attitudes. Many of my honours students have also examined the influence of individual difference and demographic variables in determining attitudes towards people mental illnesses.

Second, my work with the Mental Health Commission of Canada involves the development, implementation, and evaluation of anti-stigma programs for their efficacy in reducing stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental illnesses. The anti-stigma programs we are currently evaluating take the form of hour-long presentations to more comprehensive multi-session workshops, with audiences of employees in a workplace setting, health care providers, and more diverse population samples. Some successful programs include the Road to Mental Readiness for first responders and The Working Mind for the general workplace. Currently, we are also piloting The Inquiring Mind for university students in 10 post-secondary institutions across Canada. These three programs combined have been quite successful with almost 100,000 participants since 2014. As well, the three programs were developed in collaboration and based on the Canadian Department of National Defence’s Road to Mental Readiness program, which has been in place for soldiers since about 2008.

Finally, my third area of interest extends from my work with the Campus Mental Health Strategy. This broadly involves the evaluation of the strategy at four levels, including the program level (i.e., effectiveness of programs offered as a part of the strategy), the recommendation level (i.e., completion of the 28 recommendations of the strategy), the university level (i.e., trends in mental health of students, staff, faculty, and post-doctoral scholars), and the evaluation of processes (e.g., efficiency of strategy implementation, participation of the university community in the strategy).