July 5, 2024

Introducing O'Brien Institute’s "Shaping the Future of Healthcare" series

Mental health and addiction

At the O'Brien Institute for Public Health, we are privileged to work alongside some of the brightest minds in healthcare research. Our members are dedicated to advancing knowledge and developing innovative solutions that address the most pressing health challenges in Alberta and beyond.

We recognize that as Albertans, we are in unprecedented times as our healthcare system undergoes restructuring. In light of this, we are excited to launch O'Brien Institute’s Shaping the Future of Healthcare series, where we will be highlighting some exceptional researchers who are driving change and making a profound impact in the following key areas:

  1. Primary care
  2. Continuing care
  3. Acute care
  4. Mental health and addiction

Each week, we will feature dedicated members from these categories, showcasing their groundbreaking work, achievements, and the positive influence they have on our community. These individuals exemplify the O'Brien Institute’s spirit of innovation, compassion, and excellence.

Join us in celebrating these healthcare research innovators and learning more about the incredible strides they are making to improve health outcomes for all Albertans. Stay tuned for inspiring stories, insightful research, and a glimpse into the future of healthcare.

Let’s honour the people behind the progress. Together, we can foster a healthier, brighter future.

Mental Health and Addiction:

Addressing mental health and addictions (MHA) is a critical component of our health care system. All Albertans deserve equitable access to MHA services, from prevention to treatment to well-being. Read about some of our members who are leading innovative and transformative solutions to challenges in the MHA landscape.

Gina Dimitropoulos

Dr. Gina Dimitropoulos

Dr. Gina Dimitropoulos: Addressing youth mental health challenges

Dr. Gina Dimitropoulos, PhD, is an award-winning clinician, researcher, and professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. Her research primarily focuses on youth and families affected by mental health issues, chronic health conditions and child abuse. She uses her research to contribute to system level changes to improve integration across sectors, promote seamless transitions between pediatric and adult care, and facilitate equitable access to care for all youth.

Using e-Mental Health to improve mental health outcomes for youth 

Dr. Dimitropoulos is currently working with a team of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to assess the implementation of an e-Mental Health (eMH) platform for youth and young adults in Albertan communities. Their aim is to improve outcomes such as decreased emergency department use, suicide attempts, and shorter wait times in Alberta mental health services for youth. This novel study will be the first to integrate eMH across the continuum of care for youth mental health (i.e., schools and primary care to specialized clinics) which may have a major impact on the early identification of mental health issues and enhance access to different providers and services across multiple sectors and in rural and remote communities.

Enhancing continuity of care for youth with eating disorders

Dr. Dimitropoulos also currently leads a national team of over 90 relevant partners who are working to develop the first Canadian practice guidelines for pediatric-to-adult transitions for eating disorders. Dr. Dimitropoulos and her research partners will co-design the implementation of the guidelines for transitions from pediatric to adult services across Canada. The team hopes to be able to scale the guidelines within Canada and internationally across different contexts, funding structures, and systems of care to benefit youth in different circumstances.

Why does this work matter?

Dr. Dimitropoulos's research is making a tangible difference in the lives of youth by enhancing services and support for those experiencing mental health problems and barriers to accessing needed services that are culturally sensitive, youth friendly and developmentally appropriate. Her efforts aim not only to prevent and enhance mental health outcomes in young people but also to ensure sustained support as they transition into adulthood across different sectors and systems such as post-secondary education and the health care system.

Dr. Dimitropoulos is a professor in the Faculty of Social Work.