This Chair takes an expansive, human-focused, and innovative approach to raising awareness among future health professionals and the general public of the challenges and barriers often faced by people with serious mental health disorders. Our research program involves a retrospective study of the historical approach and the 20-year development of databases covering over a century of psychiatric practices in Ontario and Quebec.
In its final term as a Canadian Francophonie Research Chair in Health, the research will examine issues centred on equality, diversity and inclusiveness. Our rigorous scientific approach will give voice to vulnerable people whose stories emerge from our work with the records of patients at the Saint-Jean-de-Dieu psychiatric hospital (Cellard and Thifault, 2007; Klein and Thifault, in press (2021); Desmeules and Thifault, 2016; Thifault, 2020, 2016, 2015, 2013) and the department of psychiatry at Montfort Hospital (Harrisson and Thifault, in press - 2021, 2018, 2014; Thifault, 2020, 2018, 2016; Thifault and LeBel, 2021). This micro-historical approach sheds some light on the lives of ordinary people who ended up in the psychiatric hospital. In line with the life-course approach, this method has proven to be particularly effective for studying atypical life and care trajectories that involve decisive moments (roads not taken, life stages, events, or turning points) characterized by family crises, severe disorganization, suicide attempts, or major depression. In short, these events required an intervention, seclusion, psychiatric hospitalization, care, or support. Over the years, our team has built exceptional databases that we want to further develop and revisit to draw out new elements so we can construct life stories that we can then publish in new formats (short films, feature films, docudramas, documentaries, podcasts, etc.) to share the knowledge acquired over 20 years of studying serious mental health disorders.