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Overview

The focus of the team research program is the study of emotion regulatory mechanisms of resilience or adaptive functioning in young people at-risk (children/adolescents/young adults). Within this program of research, our work focuses on three strands of inquiry. The first strand focuses on specific behaviours associated with emotion regulation and coping, (e.g., non-suicidal self-injury, problematic video gaming); the second focuses on aspects of the environment, including cyberspace and the school that may serve to support or undermine the adjustment of those at-risk; and the third examines the role of mindfulness in enhancing resilience. The nature of our team’s research is inter-disciplinary; while founded in educational psychology it incorporates elements and collaborators from psychology, school psychology, social work, counseling psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing and public health.

Mindfulness In Educational Settings

Investigators/Collaborators: Elana Bloom, Elizabeth Roberts, Nancy Heath, Amy Shapiro

Funding Agency: Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport

Description: StressOFF Strategies (http://www.cea-ace.ca/fr/education-canada/article/teen-stress-our-schools; Shapiro & Heath, 2013) was created as a brief mindfulness-based stress management program for adolescents that can be integrated in the curriculum with few additional resources. In Year 1, we sought to determine if educators (classroom teachers and technicians) could effectively deliver SOS to their students and to evaluate educators’ perspectives on SOS delivery. Throughout the two months following the training, participants delivered the program to over 550 high school students. Results from student evaluations revealed equivalent student satisfaction with educator and SOS team delivery on students’ overall program rating, level of understanding, and willingness to use learned strategies in the future. Furthermore, 100% of educators strongly agreed (38.5%) or agreed (61.5%) that SOS was relevant, met their expectations and was feasible within their school.

In 2016 (Year 2), we evaluated the indirect delivery of SOS, with school mental health professionals (MHPs) learning how to train educators to deliver SOS in their schools. MHPs attended a workshop and learned how to deliver SOS and were provided with detailed information on how to train teachers to deliver the program. Throughout the three months following the initial training workshop, MHPs trained educators to deliver the program, which was presented to over 250 high school students. Results from student evaluations revealed high student satisfaction with educator delivery on students’ overall program rating, level of understanding, and likelihood or recommending the program to a friend. Despite the initial optimism, enthusiasm, and efforts on the part of the MHPs, it became apparent that there were a number of obstacles to having the train the trainer model work. In order to address the challenges encountered in this phase of the project, we are currently investigating the feasibility of a direct-delivery approach in which the SOS team is providing all materials required for learning to deliver the program directly to presenters.

Investigators/Collaborators: Richard Montoro, Stella Miller, Nancy Heath, Carlos Gomez-Garibello, Dana Carsley

Funding Agency: McGill University; James McGill Research Award, McGill University

Description: Medical residents report high levels of stress, with many work-related demands contributing to their experience of heightened stress. Mindfulness training has been suggested as a beneficial strategy for improving stress management and coping in medical residents; however, many mindfulness programs are time consuming and make compliance with conventional mindfulness training programs challenging given the intense competing time commitments entailed by residency. We sought to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of a single-session mindfulness-based stress management workshop for medical residents. Over 140 residents from family medicine, internal medicine and general surgical residency programs participated in a 1-hour mindfulness workshop. Results revealed high levels of satisfaction by participants with the workshop. Approximately one third of participants indicated frequent or everyday use of the mindfulness strategies over the 1 month post-workshop. Interestingly, those participants who indicated that they used the strategies reported a significant increase in mindfulness and decrease in stress. These results suggest that even single session mindfulness training can be well-received and bring about significant improvement in subjective perception of stress for at least 1 month following the intervention. Future research is needed to investigate facilitators and barriers to strategy use.

Investigators/Collaborators: Nancy Heath, Bassam Khoury, Jessica Mettler, Vera Romano

Funding Agency: McGill University

Description: In collaboration with Dr. Khoury, this project seeks to develop and evaluate a mindfulness-training workshop to help mental health professionals develop their own mindfulness practice and integrate it both in their personal life and clinical work.

Investigators/Collaborators: Lindsay Duncan, Nancy Heath, Victoria Talwar, McGill University

Funding Agency: Social Science Humanities Research Council of Canada: Insight Development Grant

Description: This project seeks to examine adolescents’ use of technology communication (e.g., texting, e-mailing, instagram) versus face-to-face communication (e.g., in-person, telephone) in sharing positive and negative communications with peers. It is expected that adolescents will report a conscious selective use of technology for sharing of negative communications as a socially appropriate technique.

Investigators/Collaborators: Nancy Heath, Elana Bloom, Jessica Mettler, Dana Carsley

Funding Agency: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Description: This research seeks to develop our understanding of mindfulness and its role in adolescents’ school adjustment. Currently, educational settings are adopting mindfulness programs with little knowledge of if it works, how it works, and, critically, if it is more or less efficacious with different groups of students. Results from this project would provide essential early information that could guide our use of mindfulness in the schools as well as contributing to our theoretical understanding of mindfulness during adolescence.

Stress and Coping

Investigators/Collaborators: Nancy Heath

Funding Agency: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Description: Adolescence is characterised by considerable change physically, socially, and emotionally; often, the added pressure of starting secondary school can increase the stress associated with this time period. Thus, our research team was interested in examining adaptive and maladaptive strategies that youths may use to cope with these stressors as they go through the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades.

Investigators/Collaborators: Joel Paris, Phyllis Zelkowitz, Lise Laporte, Robert Biscan, Nancy Heath

Funding Agency: Jewish General Hospital

Description: This project is a follow-up to Stress and Coping During Transition to High School, with the objective of examining risk and protective factors for overall well-being associated with the transition out of high school. This project explores how experiences in early adolescence may be related to adjustment after high school graduation; specifically, the impact of social and personal factors as well as different types of coping behaviours.

Investigators/Collaborators: Nancy Heath

Funding Agency: James McGill Research Award

Description: The uCope project investigates the risk and protective factors associated with stress, well-being, healthy and unhealthy coping behaviours in university students. Throughout 2014 to 2016, more than 6000 students have participated in the study.

Investigators/Collaborators: Nancy Heath, Cindy Finn, Elana Bloom, Elizabeth Roberts

Funding Agency: Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport

Description: In collaboration with the Centre of Excellence on Mental Health (CEMH) at Lester B. Pearson School Board, a partnership grant was obtained from the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport to develop, provide and evaluate professional development activities for teachers and classroom technicians focusing on better supporting students with depression and anxiety in the classroom. This project has resulted in the development of a workshop that is available to school mental health professionals and resource to use for training teachers and technicians in their own school. These workshops come with a detailed manual and suggested resources.

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

Investigators/Collaborators: Stephen Lewis, Nancy Heath

Funding Agency: CIHR; James McGill Award, McGill University

Description: Self-injury Outreach & Support (SIOS) is a non-profit outreach initiative providing information and resources about self-injury to those who self-injure, those who have recovered, loved ones, and professionals who work with those who self-injure. Click here to access the SIOS website.

Investigators/Collaborators: Penelope Hasking, Nancy Heath, Michael Kaess, Stephen Lewis, Paul Plener, Barent Walsh, Janis Whitlock, Marc Wilson

Description: ICSES involves an interdisciplinary and international research group whose primary goals are to develop and disseminate best practice guidelines for preventing and responding to self-injury in educational settings (elementary, high school and university/college).

Description: International collaborations focusing on understanding and providing support for non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) in educational contexts cross-culturally. This includes projects investigating NSSI in Iran, Jordan, India, and Brazil, and collaborative work around supporting those who engage in NSSI in educational settings in Germany, Australia, USA, and New Zealand.

Collaborators: ICSES, Nancy Heath, Melissa De Riggi, Stephen Lewis

Description: This project seeks to understand school administrators’ understanding, perspectives, and needs for a workshop in the area of NSSI school response. Ultimately, this project aims to provide better school response to NSSI.

 

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