$2 million invested to fund Centre for Research Development in Gender, Mental Health and Violence Across the Lifespan: Preventing Gender Violence

The CIHR’s Institute of Gender and Health (IGH) is investing $2 million in the Centre for Research Development in Gender, Mental Health and Violence Across the Lifespan at McMaster University. Principal investigators affiliated with the Centre are Dr. Harriet MacMillan of McMaster University, Dr. Jeffrey Coben of West Virginia University, Dr. Helen Herrman of the University of Melbourne, Dr. Donna Stewart of the University of Toronto and Dr. Nadine Wathen of The University of Western Ontario. A complete list of the Centre’s co-investigators can be found in the attached backgrounder.
“Violence in the home can profoundly affect the mental health of women, men, girls and boys and contribute to ongoing cycles of violence and poor health, yet there are currently few proven interventions for child maltreatment and intimate partner violence,” says Dr. Joy Johnson, IGH Scientific Director.

The Centre for Research Development in Gender, Mental Health and Violence Across the Lifespan aims to increase the understanding of the links between mental health problems and family violence. Researchers will work closely with knowledge users and community members to develop strategies to prevent or reduce childhood maltreatment, intimate partner violence and subsequent mental health problems.

Knowledge translation activities will be a key focus of the Centre's work. The Centre will share and exchange knowledge within the team of Centre investigators and with stakeholders such as policy-makers, health and social service providers, advocates and members of the public. The Centre will also create an international network to set priorities for research to reduce family violence and analyse data from existing studies to better understand the links between childhood maltreatment and mental health. These steps will build research capacity that will help researchers understand and foster resilience in mental health outcomes after exposure to violence and develop innovations in knowledge exchange tailored to the area of violence.

"With family violence affecting at least 30% of Canadians, there is a pressing need for a coherent and integrated approach to the problem of family violence and its mental health outcomes, and to look at this for both males and females," says Dr. MacMillan.

Child maltreatment and intimate partner violence are global public health problems. While thought to affect primarily females, there is evidence that exposure to child physical abuse is at least as, if not more, common in males. Furthermore, both women and men are victims of intimate partner violence and its mental health consequences. Despite the known link between mental health and family violence, little research has been conducted, especially in the areas of intervention.

Dr. Harriet MacMillan is a pediatrician and psychiatrist at the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University with a major research interest in children’s and women’s mental health, and Aboriginal health generally. Dr. MacMillan holds the David R. (Dan) Offord Chair in Child Studies and is a member of the Child Advocacy and Assessment Program (CAAP) at McMaster Children’s Hospital. This multidisciplinary program aims, through research, teaching and clinical activities, to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with child maltreatment.

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