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Pillar Projects

The Family-Friendly Community Resources for Better Health and Well-Being Project (FFCR-BWH)

This project aims to collect data on Family-Friendly Community Resources across Canada with a particular focus on Ontario. These community-level data have been matched to existing individual-level longitudinal data from the Canadian Work Stress and Health Study (2010-2019), which includes measures of “work-family conflict,” a pernicious modern day mental health risk for parents with children. A unique repository with the combined data will be created for other researchers to use. 

This project will have significant impact by increasing the accessibility of data and preparing students and highly qualified personnel to work with big data across the province’s private and public firms. With support from ARMS, this project will provide data access to all through a publicly available data repository and technical reports across Canadian regions, while bringing together faculty, students and community members with aligned interests in residential communities, health and well-being.

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The World Health Organization World Mental Health International College Student Survey Initiate (WMH-ICS)

McMaster was invited to join the WMH-ICS, a global landmark study out of Harvard Medical School that seeks to determine the contributors to and prevalence of mental health problems among university students. This study is longitudinal in design with an international focus, which provides insight into students’ mental health experiences across cultures over time. McMaster joins approximately twenty other participating universities (three of which are Canadian: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto) across sixteen different countries in this study that is ground-breaking in its scope and potential to benefit students and post-secondary institutions. The survey initiate prioritizes the evaluation and creation of targeted interventions designed to reduce the onset of mental health problems and to increase academic resilience. In collaboration with McMaster’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, we aim to contribute to these intervention initiatives. With the support of ARMS, we plan to support the McMaster arm of the study (set to launch January, 2021). The success of this project will bring international collaboration and wide-scale attention to ARMS, and—by extension—the University. ARMS will mobilize McMaster faculty and students working on the WMH-ICS to promote collaboration, pedagogy, and the longevity of the project.

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Psychoactivity for Sale

Although humankind has long made use of psychoactive substances - those capable of altering feelings, thoughts, and behaviours - the twentieth century witnessed what historian David Courtwright dubbed the 'psychoactive revolution.' During this period, psychoactive consumer goods became entrenched in people's day-to-day routines, becoming important tools for managing the self. This project explores the role of advertising in shaping public perceptions of psychoactive products, ranging from alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine to painkillers and psychiatric medications. Drawing from several case studies across the globe (Canada, Colombia, West Africa, Yugoslavia, and India), it explores how advertisers sought to educate consumers about psychoactive self-management in the period 1881-2001. This project is currently funded by a SSHRC Insight grant, and builds upon Dr. Savelli's previous SSHRC Insight Development funded project "Selling Abnormality: A Global History of Psychopharmaceutical Advertising."

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Seeing the Individual, Treating Society: Social Psychiatry in Communist Yugoslavia (1945-1991)

Responding to grief in marked and meaningful ways is an effective way of dealing with loss and achieving a sense of integration. In the case of rapid and intense social change, people often feel an exacerbated sense of loss and disempowerment. This can magnify anxieties and regrets, worsening negative thinking and problematic behaviours. This project aims to develop new online resources designed to support people coping with COVID-19, those dealing with loss and grief and to share alternatives to social gatherings for memorials after the loss of a family member, colleague or friend. Our research team has partnered with community organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association of Hamilton (CMHA) to develop online resources designed to support people coping with the infection, those dealing with loss and grief and to share alternatives to social gatherings for memorials after the loss of a family member, colleague or friend.

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The Ethics and Social Relations of Undesirability: Exploring the Experiences of Immigration Detention and Deportation for Canadian Immigrants with Histories of Mental Health Issues

This research will be driven by two questions of relevance to social work practice and scholarship: How do criminal justice, immigration, and mental health systems together construct, authorize, and legitimate violence against residents of Canada without citizenship? Subsequently, what do not-yet citizens at this confluence demand for justice and care? The first objective of this study is to race the history of the social relations of treatment of people identified with mental health issues by criminal justice and immigration. The second objective is to identify the ethical gaps in the treatment, support, and care of not-yet citizens at the confluence of mental health, criminal justice, and immigration systems. This research is at the intersection of critical Disability Studies, Post-Colonialism, and Critical Race Theory and uses a Mixed Methods approach employing discourse analysis and focus groups

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Grief, Memorials, and Loss Through COVID-19: Resources for Caring while Physical Distancing

Social isolation and physical distancing requirements create unique challenges for individuals responding to loss and being supportive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Periods of rapid or intense social change intensify feelings of grief, worsening negative thinking and problematic behaviours.

Dr. Ameil Joseph has partnered with CMHA Hamilton to develop an online resource to support individuals dealing with loss, bereavement and grief. Users can access current resources and contribute their own. Contributions from cultural, religious and spiritual leaders have been included in the collection.

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Affiliated Projects

Emotions Matter: Skill Building, Emotional Resilience and Social Support for Care Workers

CMHA Hamilton is partnering with McMaster to enhance workplace mental health, specifically, to develop improved supports for frontline care workers.

Led by Dr. Diana Singh, the team will use evidence-based research to assist in the creation of workplace resources and strategies designed to promote emotional resiliency among community care professionals.

Broad Objectives:

  • Examine the broader social context in which socioemotional stressors arise during client care delivery.
  • Design a standardized social support and skills building program for emotionally challenging/laborious work
  • environments. A pilot study of the new program will be conducted with CMHA Hamilton’s front line staff.

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Emotional Labour in Libraries: Stressors in the Library Work Field

The Hamilton Public Library has partnered with McMaster in stage 2 of the broader Emotions Matter study along with three other Library Systems in Ontario: Grimsby, Burlington, and Brantford.

Dr. Diana Singh and her research team have launched an Employee Health and Well-Being Survey across the four Public Library Systems, to examine the consequences of emotional labour and emotion management among a sample of Ontario Library Workers.

The study will contribute to current efforts to improve organizational practices and employee wellness programs across the four library systems and will help inform the development of a social support program and emotional labour skills training course for public service workers.

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A Comparative Study of Emotional Labour Occupations in Canada and the United States

Dr. Singh’s project “A Comparative Study of Emotional Labour Occupations in Canada and the United States” is a Canadian-U.S. Comparative study of emotional labour occupations. Her study explores the link between emotional labour intensive occupations and the mental health consequences for Canadian and U.S. workers. As part of this project, Dr. Singh has developed a 'crosswalk' between the Canadian National Occupational Classification System and the U.S. Occupational Information Network Database. The crosswalk, entitled "A Canadian Pathway to the O*NET: Linking Occupational Data between Canada and the United States" is being made publicly accessible to other researchers through ARMS.

This research was funded by McMaster’s Arts Research Board (SSHRC Explore –Standard Research and Research Creation Grant).

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