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Giving people a voice in
mental health research
WRITTEN BY CAITLIN CRAWSHAW
The Mental Health Commission of
Canada reports that in a given year, one
in five people in Canada experiences
a mental health problem or illness. In
Alberta, that’s more than 675,000 people.
Researchers and clinicians in the
province recognize the need to learn
more about mental health, but realize
most research topics are chosen by the
researcher, not the people living with
mental illness. A new study partly funded
by Alberta Innovates (previously Alberta
Innovates – Health Solutions) is
changing that. This fall, the Alberta
Depression Research Priority Setting
Project surveyed people who have
experienced depression, as well as their
clinicians and caregivers, to pinpoint
gaps in current research.
“Someone with lived experience will
likely have a different perspective than
someone doing the research,” explains
Robbie Babins-Wagner, PhD, a professor
at the University of Calgary Faculty
of Social Work and a member of the
project’s advisory group.
Researchers are analyzing the survey
answers to better understand the needs
of people who experience depression.
And what they find will shape research
to help meet their needs. “This will allow
the voice of people living with and caring
for mental illness to influence research
projects,” adds Babins-Wagner.