News Article Details

BU to open rural mental-health studies centre

The Brandon Sun - 9/2/2019

Brandon University will soon be home to a new centre for rural mental-health studies.

The centre will be located within the Faculty of Health Studies and support research into rural mental-health topics.

Dr. Rachel Herron, the founding director of BU’s Centre for Critical Studies of Rural Mental Health, said it will allow different departments at the university to come together to study the topic.

“We have researchers at BU looking at mental health across the life course in rural and small-town settings, including Brandon and the outlying area,” she said.

“What this centre is really allowing us to do is to bring those strengths together, and it signals the university’s priorities in terms of providing resources including space and research assistantships to really push this research area forward.”

She said the centre will also help the university connect with community needs on what the mental-heath priorities are.

Mental-health concerns in rural areas are somewhat different from those in urban centres. It is often more difficult for people living rurally to access mental-health care and actually getting there is more of a challenge. Despite this, smaller towns and villages often say they feels a stronger sense of community, which Herron said itself can be viewed as mental-health support.

“I’m sort of wary of casting rural areas as they have worse mental health, they just have different resources and challenges and different opportunities in terms of addressing those needs,” Herron said.

Whatever the solutions to mental-health issues in rural areas are, they have to be rooted in the community, she said.

The centre comes with research assistants and office space, which will help with research and making it a cross-disciplinary study.

Issues relating to rural mental health are especially important in Manitoba, where 28 per cent of adults have been diagnosed with at least one mental-health problem or addiction in the past five years, according to a BU press release. While Brandon is an urban centre, it is surrounded by and serves many rural communities.

One of the most important things about the new centre for rural mental health is that it will bring the strengths of multiple disciplines together, Herron said. It will also let researchers study mental health over the entire course of people’s lives.

“I think that mental health affects us all, and that the solution to mental-health problems can’t be found in a single discipline or from one single perspective, we have to work together. That’s why this centre is so important — it’s bringing people together to develop solutions that are relevant to the communities around us.”


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