Spark / Spring 2019
With no single known cause, and multiple social, psychological and biological factors, many mental illnesses go undiagnosed and untreated. At any given moment, approximately 800,000 British Columbians are experiencing mental illness; this can affect functioning and relationships at home, school and work, and costs the BC government an estimated $6.6 billion annually.
Although no age or social group is immune to the challenges and stigma of mental illness, the young and disadvantaged are particularly vulnerable and can often feel like they have nowhere to turn. In these instances, the emergency room is often a last resort. In fact, BC saw an 85% increase in youth emergency department visits for mental health from 2009 to 2013 — a period when other admissions remained relatively stable.
The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research is proud to have funded numerous researchers working to better understand the underlying causes and potential treatments for mental illnesses, the best ways to provide care, and how to support mental health and well-being in at-risk groups.
Spark: No health without mental health features: Drs. Faranak Farzan, Skye Barbic and Shannon Dames.
- Chapter 1: Unlocking the black box: The biology of brain health
Dr. Faranak Farzan, a neuro-engineer and brain health researcher, and her team at the eBrain Lab at Simon Fraser University are testing non-invasive forms of brain stimulation for young people with depression.
- Chapter 2: Creating a safe space with youth, for youth
Dr. Skye Barbic and the team at Foundry are turning the traditional medical model of mental health care for youth and young adults on its head.
- Chapter 3: Growing roots to thrive: Building caregiver resilience
Vancouver Island University professor of nursing Dr. Shannon Dames and her team are piloting a program to better equip health-care providers with tools to protect their own mental health while they provide quality care for their patients.