THE PROBLEMS: Canadian families, parents, youth, and children who are suffering most from mental health
problems are those that are least well served by the mental health system. Racialization, Indigeneity, LGBT2SQ+ prejudice, Poverty, Refugee Status, Immigration, Geographic Isolation, and Disabilities are risk factors for not only mental health challenge but poorer access to mental health services. Inclusivity is also an equally important gap. Culturally sensitive training opportunities from clinician-scientists with lived experience in marginalization are extremely limited, despite the great need for this lived experience to support work with marginalized children and families.
MOVING TOWARDS A SOLUTION: To truly divert the current path of Canadian mental health, it is critical to create a more diverse clinician-scientist base in digital and virtual technologies that builds on national expertise on diverse ways of understanding and treating mental health. This augmented curriculum is simply not possible in any one graduate training program alone. The Digital, Inclusive, Virtual, and Equitable Research Training in Mental Health Platform (DIVERT Mental Health) sets out to do this with Industry, NGO and academic partners who are at the frontline of moving the mental health system forward through digital and virtual technologies that utilizes a more diverse understanding of mental health.
DIVERT Mental Health sets out to disrupt the course of the mental health system in Canada by starting at the beginning: helping train clinician-scientist trainees (e.g. clinical psychology, social work, pediatrics, family medicine, psychiatry, nursing) who want to conduct research related to the mental health of children and families in a new way. DIVERT Mental health sets out to educate trainee and early career clinician-scientists on digital and virtual mental health intervention development that is grounded in inclusive and equitable knowledges, alongside computer science, industry and NGO partners.
The DIVERT Mental Health Training platform will consist of 5 main pillars of learning:
1. Diverse ways of understanding and building mental health innovation
2. Training in digital and virtual technology
3. Implementation science
4. Persuasive communication techniques
5. Leadership and socio-emotional skills.
With the help and expertise of our partners at IBM, the sophisticated platform will allow training to be delivered through online curriculums, webinars, workshops and podcasts that will be free to trainees enrolled in the program. There will be an annual Think Tank meeting with in-person learning and networking opportunities, facilitation of Industry and NGO practicums and software to facilitate the forming of online affinity groupings for trainees with both mentors and their peers. Development tracking will also be integrated into the system.
Through partnerships with Academic Institutions, Industry and NGOs, DIVERT Mental Health will lead to:
1. More mental health researchers trained in inclusive and accessible mental health innovations
2. More diverse trainees pursuing careers in mental health research and assuming leadership roles both inside and outside of academia
3. More inclusive and accessible mental health innovations being available to the diverse range of children, youth and families in Canada and beyond.
Led by Drs. Rebecca Pillai Riddell and Patrick McGrath, the team behind DIVERT Mental Health is a diverse group representing different, institutions, disciples, jurisdictions, sectors and career stages. We have received exceptional support for the project from Institutions across Canada and a significant number of faculty, over and above those listed as co-applicants, agreeing to give lectures as part of the program and potentially act as mentors in future years. A platform advisory committee has been established to help guide and monitor the progress of the platform and inform future direction and we will also have a youth and family advisory committee. Each of the learning pillars and main platform initiatives will also have their own management committees led by one of the Principal Applicants with representation from Co-applicants, partners and trainees.