The Mental Health pillar of the uOBMRI is the newest pillar of the institute and includes basic scientists, clinical researchers, and clinicians who are working together to understand the fundamental mechanisms and factors involved in the onset of mental health disorders across the lifespan, to develop effective preventative measures and treatments for various mental illnesses, and to facilitate access to mental health professionals and effective multicultural clinical care.

Overhead view of person filling out medical form with patient sitting at other side of table.

Research themes

Thus, we are focusing on the following themes:

  1. Understanding the fundamentals of mental health disorders: We are working to elucidate neural mechanisms and processes involved in the onset and maintenance of mental illnesses across the lifespan. We use a variety of techniques including neuroimaging, behavioural, and biochemical approaches to investigate these mechanisms and processes in human and animal models. We have been working in new and emerging research areas including multisystemic interactions with the nervous system; (e.g., brain & heart and brain & gut interactions).

  2. Prevention/treatment: Our team is also concentrating on understanding factors associated with vulnerability and resilience to the development of symptoms of mental illnesses and identifying modifiable factors that may prevent the onset of mental illness among at-risk populations. Our researchers are translating laboratory discoveries into innovative clinical trials and exploring novel treatment strategies for mental illnesses.
  3. Clinical Care Delivery: Mental illnesses are expected to continue to become more and more prevalent. The existing health care model catering to this patient population is unsustainable. Thus, our team focuses on establishing more effective and efficient health care models to maximize the quality of care to an increasing number of patients who need it by helping to develop new clinical care resources and to render the current resources more effective and accessible to all.

Mental illnesses can appear at a very young age, and our current treatments are not effective for all, which not only impacts the quality of life of patients and their families but also has important economical and social implications for Canadians. By joining forces, the Mental Health pillar has been making substantial progress in all the areas mentioned for a better future for all.