Message from Vice-Chair Research, Dr. Simon Hatcher
One of the roles of the Department of Psychiatry is to encourage and foster collaboration among the 14 affiliated hospitals and research institutes within the Ottawa region and its surrounding areas. A key priority in achieving this goal is to encourage our Departmental members to create teams and to work together across different divisions and silos. Consequently, a number of our members hold joint grants with researchers in China, the Netherlands, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Our brilliant Research Manager, Valerie Testa, has worked diligently to promote this spirit of collaboration within the Department of Psychiatry. On September 16th, 2015, we hosted the inaugural Regional Mental Health Research Conference which provided researchers, residents and other mental health professionals with the opportunity to collaborate, network and discuss mental health research in the region of Eastern Ontario. Similarly, during Brain Health Awareness Week, in an effort to design research with practical outcomes, the Department of Psychiatry, in partnership with the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute, hosted an expert panel to discuss Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) within first responders. Moderated by Dr. Katharine Gillis, Drs. Simon Hatcher, Kathleen Pajer, Raj Bhatla, Doug Green along with Clinical Psychologist Dr. Tasleem Damji, participated in an open panel discussion aiming to address the current stigmas surrounding PTSD.
The Department of Psychiatry has a responsibility to the Ottawa community to address issues preventing access to care. Our Departmental members have taken strides to address these concerns through the launch in September of the first phase of a virtual mental health clinic on ementalhealth.ca/primarycare. The website will provide users with access to information and the Ottawa Depression Treatment algorithm. We have also been developing a monitoring system to measure numbers of suicides and presentations to hospital of intentional self-harm. This data, in turn, will serve to inform intervention strategies targeting the most vulnerable members of our communities. Such interventions include the “Suicide Prevention in Men: A Cluster of Randomized Trial of a Smart Phone Assisted Problem Solving Therapy for Men who present with Self-Harm to Emergency Departments,” funded by the Ontario SPOR Support Unit (OSSU). Additionally, research conducted by the Department of Psychiatry has actively sought to involve service users in the research process over the last year. This is a process encouraged by most major research funders around the world and demonstrates the Department’s commitment to innovative research and patient care. This year, we created the Service Users and Caregivers Interest Group in Suicide Prevention (SUCRIG), which involves stakeholders with lived experience as collaborators and instigators of research. There are also service users on our Departmental Research Committee, which maintains the same membership as last year.
I am pleased to report that this has been a successful research year for the Department of Psychiatry. Our departmental members held a record number of 84 research funding grants from prestigious agencies such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The amount of grant funding and the number of publications have both increased by at least 50% since last year. A number of our Departmental members also hold prominent Research Chair positions in fields such as Psychopharmocology, Psychotherapy and Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics to name only a few. In the upcoming year, the Department of Psychiatry also plans to strengthen the Resident Research Stream and support Residents in their scholarly projects so that we can “grow our own” new generation of researchers.