Kim Matheson , PhD

In 2017, The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR) and Carleton University announced a new partnership, the Culture and Gender Mental Health Research Chair, held by Dr. Kim Matheson.

As Chair, Dr. Matheson is working with researchers from universities across Canada, First Nations communities and organizations, and the IMHR, to develop mental health intervention approaches tailored to the unique experiences of First Nations People.

Her primary research involves working with First Nations communities in Northwestern Ontario to identify and implement community-led strategies to promote youth mental health, and serve a preventive role to diminish self-harm, substance use, and deaths by suicide.  While these communities are in a constant state of crisis, dealing with ongoing youth suicide clusters, they have not had the capacity to consider longer-term prevention strategies, nor do they receive the resources and funding to do so.

Dr. Matheson has brought together a multi-disciplinary team to work with communities to encourage a range of activities from family healing from past and ongoing trauma, engaging with cultural traditions, enabling social support safety nets, and providing opportunities to develop better coping skills, to name but a few possibilities. Given the disproportionately high number of girls who are self-harming and dying by suicide in this region, she has most recently begun an initiative to build the esteem of and empower young, First Nations mothers.

Together with her partners, Dr. Matheson is also working at the political/policy level to raise awareness among levels of government of the need for more concerted, holistic efforts that address the context in which youth live — and not simply to provide acute clinical care in times of crisis.