The Douglas Institute Foundation would like to extend a special thank you to the J. Armand Bombardier Foundation for granting Research Fellowships to two first-year PhD candidates in Epidemiology: Erika Braithwaite and Genevieve Gariepy.

The Bombardier Foundation has granted this fellowship in the Services, Policy and Population Health research axis to promote the development of innovative, ethical, and relevant clinical practice or services.

Erika Braithwaite is studying the cost-effectiveness of delivering mental health services to mentally ill individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system. She will compare groups of offenders who entered the prison system to those who entered the mental health system and compare the services offered to these individuals and the cost of these services. She hopes to determine what kinds of interventions prevent an individual from committing a second offense. Braithwaite says that such findings can “change policy so that crime is prevented and services reach those who most need it”.

Genevieve Gariepy’s work focuses on “how neighbourhoods affect mental health”. She will study groups of people who live with chronic conditions (including depression, but also diabetes, hypertension, etc.) over time to see how, as they change neighbourhoods, their mental health also changes. Someone with diabetes, for example, might need to have sidewalks and a park nearby to allow them to exercise daily. Someone with a physical disability might need to have a shopping centre and a library close by. In both examples, if these things are not available to the individual their overall sense of well-being may be affected. Gariepy’s goal is to be able to affect change in government urban planning policy so that the specific needs of the population of an area are taken into account and prioritized when park, bike paths, and other resources are built.

When they are finished their studies, both candidates would like to do policy planning for the Canadian government. They personally want to extend their heartfelt appreciation for the kind gift of the Bombardier Foundation for allowing them to pursue their PhD research at the Douglas Institute. They both see here (Gariepy, right; Braithwaite, middle) with Joseph Rochford, PhD, Director of Academic Affairs of the Douglas Institute Research Centre. Both students are pursuing their doctoral studies at McGill.