Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

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St. Joseph's Care Group

St. Joseph's Care Group


Centre for Applied Health Research

The NorthBEAT Project

NorthBEAT Project - Barriers to Early Assessment and Treatment

Early psychosis intervention was developed to decrease the duration of untreated psychosis, and improve long-term outcomes for people with severe mental illness. Research in early intervention has made significant contributions to care. However, in Northern Ontario, services struggle with the need to better understand unique presentations, experiences, and care pathways. Specifically, research is needed to understand the service needs of people with severe mental illness and its intersection with three vulnerable populations: rural and remote residents, Aboriginal people, and youth.

This study seeks to understand the service needs of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth in Northern Ontario who experience first episode psychosis. It will also describe the mental health of a subset of youth receiving care. Data will be collected through interviews with youth receiving care and their caregivers. The results will inform service providers about the mental health experiences and service needs of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth in Northern Ontario.

Overview - of the northbeat project Project Map - services & potential recruitment sites Get to Know - the northbeat project research team
Here's our Core Team
<strong>NorthBeat Project Team</strong> (from left to right): <strong>Dr. Chiachen (Chi) Cheng</strong>, Principle Investigator of the NorthBeat Project; <strong>Shevaun Nadin</strong>, Project Coordinator; <strong>Carole Lem</strong>, Research Assistant
Left to Right: Dr. Chiachen Cheng, Shevaun Nadin & Carole Lem
Here's what we're doing
Youth Interviews - x 144 Total Family Interviews: x 24 Narrative Increased Knowledge: of service needs

In Northern Ontario, an expansive geography with many First Nations communities, early psychosis intervention services need to better understand unique presentations, experiences, and care pathways.

What are the mental health service needs of youth in Northern Ontario who experience psychosis?

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NorthBEAT Team

Chiachen Cheng
Physician Researcher

Dr. Chiachen (Chi) Cheng is a Child & Adolescent, Adult Psychiatrist and Physician Researcher. Dr. Cheng completed her Child & Adolescent and Adult Psychiatry residencies at McMaster University and moved to Thunder Bay after a Masters of Public Health at Harvard University. She has been Medical Director of First Place Clinic and Regional Resource Centre since its inception in 2006, and is Co-Chair of the Early Psychosis Intervention Ontario Network (EPION). Dr. Cheng’s research interests are in Early Psychosis Intervention (EPI) and evidence based practice as it interfaces with pediatric mental health policy. Her research has examined program implementation and development, fidelity to Ontario’s EPI standards, evaluation of EPI training for healthcare workers, delivery of EPI services in rural and remote regions, and pathways to care among vulnerable populations (e.g., youth, Aboriginal people). In 2012, Dr. Cheng was awarded a 3-year New Investigator Research Grant from the Sick Kids Foundation and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for “The NorthBEAT Project”, which aims to identify the mental health service needs of youth in Northern Ontario.

Carole Lem
Research Assistant

Carole Lem has been working as a Research Assistant since 2009. Carole has worked on various research and evaluation projects such as "Psychosis 101", which was funded by the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health in 2011. Carole joined SJCG in 2012 as Research Assistant to the NorthBEAT Project. In addition to her Research role, she is also Communications Assistant for Canadian Mental Health Association Thunder Bay. Carole is enthusiastic about knowledge exchange, and finding relevant and youth-friendly methods to disseminate and increase uptake of research findings. Further, Carole has contributed to the design of knowledge exchange activities over the years. Carole is currently supporting Ontario's Early Psychosis Intervention Network (EPION) with their knowledge exchange initiatives. Carole holds a Bachelor's degree from York University.

Shevaun Nadin
Research Coordinator

Shevaun Nadin joined St. Joseph's Care Group in 2013 as the Research Coordinator to the NorthBEAT Project. With research interests that span a variety of applied health topics, Shevaun is particularly interested in program evaluation as a means to improve social and health programs and services. Shevaun has worked on numerous applied research and evaluation projects including independent consulting projects, and projects conducted through the Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health and the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research (Lakehead University). She also teaches program evaluation, and conducts research on the practice of evaluation itself. A PhD graduate in psychology from Carleton University, Shevaun is also an active member of both the Canadian Evaluation Society and American Evaluation Association.

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