McMaster University

McMaster University

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Health Sciences

CIHR funds McMaster research centre investigating family violence, mental health

McMaster University is taking a lead role in the national response to violence in the home

Published: January 28, 2010
Harriet MacMillan
Harriet MacMillan, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences

Today, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced a $2 million grant over five years to develop the Centre for Research Development in Gender, Mental Health and Violence Across the Lifespan. The centre will be led by Harriet MacMillan, a renowned professor, pediatrician and child psychiatrist with a major research interest in the mental health of children and women.

The new centre is one of three regional centres announced by CIHR today which will undertake research programs designed to help prevent violence. At least 30 per cent of Canadians are affected family violence which can have a profound effect on the mental health of children and adults.

MacMillan is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University. She holds the endowed David R. (Dan) Offord Chair in Child Studies. Her research interests include the epidemiology of violence against women and children as well as the evaluation of interventions aimed at preventing these types of abuse.

Under her direction, the Centre for Research Development in Gender, Mental Health and Violence Across the Lifespan will increase understanding of the links between mental health problems, child maltreatment and intimate partner violence, while developing strategies to prevent and reduce these widespread problems.

The centre will also develop an international network of researchers, clinicians and policy-makers to set priorities for research to reduce family violence while improving understanding and fostering resilience in mental health outcomes after exposure to violence.

"With this special CIHR funding, we now have the unique opportunity to develop a centre that brings together investigators, policy-makers and stakeholders at the national and international level to determine ways to reduce violence and its associated impairments including addictions and mental health problems from childhood through adulthood," said MacMillan, who is a member of the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University.

"It is our hope that the kinds of interventions we study will ultimately benefit children and families."

MacMillan will establish the centre in collaboration with an international team of co-principal investigators including: Donna Stewart of the University of Toronto; Nadine Wathen of The University of Western Ontario; Jeffrey Coben of West Virginia University and Helen Herrman of the University of Melbourne.

Today’s announcement was made by Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq at a national roundtable in Ottawa that brought together leading Canadian researchers on violence, gender and health research.

"Violence is a major public health and human rights problem in Canada and around the world," Aglukkaq said. "By funding these innovative research centres, we hope to make strides in eliminating violence in our society and help Canadians overcome the devastating effects of violence on physical and mental health."

The centres were selected through a funding competition sponsored by CIHR’s Institute of Gender and Health (IGH). The successful applications were approved through a rigorous, independent peer review process.

CIHR also announced funding for the Centre for Intercultural Research on Prevention of Gender Violence at the University of Ottawa and the Centre for the Study of Gender, Social Inequities and Mental Health at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia.

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