New Canada Research Chair at BU to study mental health in rural areas

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Areas that currently don’t have access to adequate mental health care will be receiving greater attention from researchers at Brandon University (BU) following the appointment of BU professor Dr. Rachel Herron as a Canada Research Chair (CRC).

Herron has been named the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Rural and Remote Mental Health, a five-year appointment that is accompanied by $500,000 in funding from the national CRC program. Herron’s research will be used to develop supportive environments for mental health in rural and remote Canada, as well as internationally.

“People living in rural places face a lot of challenges getting the care they need,” Herron said. “Research on rural mental health has tended to focus on what is missing: health professionals, specialized health services, public transportation systems, education about mental health issues, and support for family caregivers. We need to work with rural communities to build on what they have and create better places for mental health.”

Herron is an Assistant Professor in BU’s Department of Geography. Her interest in rural health and well-being stems from her experience growing up on a farm in Midwestern Ontario. Her previous projects have focused on the needs of people living with dementia, and their caregivers, in rural Ontario and Manitoba.

Herron’s work through the CRC program will focus on caregiving, social inclusion and engagement, as well as the diversity of lived experiences, and how they impact mental health and wellness.

“Here in Western Manitoba we can truly appreciate the value of Dr. Herron’s research,” said Dr. Heather Duncan, BU’s Associate Vice-President (Research). “Many of us know people in rural areas, or live in small communities ourselves, and we can see the gap in services available compared to larger centres. This research is going to significantly benefit many people in these areas, allowing them to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.”

Herron is one of three active Chairholders at BU. The others are Dr. Sarah Plosker, the CRC in Quantum Information Theory; and Dr. Jonathan Allan, the CRC in Queer Theory.

“We are proud to have so many talented researchers across our faculty,” said Dr. Meir Serfaty, BU’s Acting Vice-President (Academic & Provost). “With the support of the CRC our Chairholders are able to dedicate increased time to their projects, adding valuable knowledge in their fields and creating research opportunities for our students. I congratulate Dr. Herron on her accomplishment, and I look forward to seeing the results of her work.”


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