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U of R psychology professor receives the Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: December 3, 2020 11:00 a.m.

Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, winner of the 2020 Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research
Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, winner of the 2020 Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research Photo: U of R Photography

Two Ottawa-based organizations, the Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research and the Mach-Gaensslen Foundation of Canada, have honoured University of Regina professor of psychology and CIPSRT’s Scientific Director, Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, as the 2020 winner of the Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research.
 
“The Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize for Mental Health Research is awarded annually to an outstanding researcher under the age of 45 in the field of mental health, to recognize, encourage and support them as they pursue their research interests and goals,” says the President of The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, Dr. Florence Dzierszinski. “Dr. Carleton exemplifies the innovation, impact, collaboration, and excellence that we seek to encourage with this award. Not only has he contributed significantly to knowledge about the impact of trauma on mental wellness, he has effectively translated this knowledge into solutions that improve the lives of individual public safety personnel and their families.”

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The annual national prize will provide $100,000 in funding to Dr. Carleton, who has demonstrated excellence in research to improve our understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of posttraumatic stress injuries (PTSI; e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder) among Public Safety Personnel (PSP; e.g., border services officers, communications officials, correctional workers, firefighters, paramedics, police), as well as working collaboratively with his peers and interdisciplinary research teams within the University of Regina and with institutions across Canada and beyond.
 
PSP are regularly exposed to potentially psychologically traumatic events and nearly half may be experiencing one or more mental health disorders.
 
“I am dedicated to helping provide the best practical scientific evidence for supporting imminent positive mental health impacts for PSP, their leaders, and their families,” says the 2020 award winner Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton. “This award is a strong validation of the importance of finding new and better ways to address post-traumatic stress injuries, and of providing much-needed supports for PSP.”
 
“As I congratulate Dr. Carleton on this prestigious award, I want to highlight that mental health research is a key priority for the University of Regina,” says U of R Vice-President (Research), Dr. Kathy McNutt. “We are pleased that Dr. Carleton’s research is helping to break new ground in understanding the effects of psychological trauma on PSP health and well-being. It makes it even more meaningful that this is the first time the award has gone to a researcher outside of the U15 universities and the first time it’s been awarded to a professor in Arts.”

In 2018, the Government of Canada dedicated funding to catalyze evidence-based solutioning through a consortium between the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT; www.cipsrt-icrtsp.ca) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research as part of a national action plan to address PTSI for PSP.

The funding supported CIPSRT as a national hub for knowledge translation and mobilization, and supported development and pilot testing of an evidence-based Internet-delivered Cognitive Therapy specifically for PSP, called PSPNET (www.pspnet.ca).

In the past five years, Dr. Carleton has received several research grants and awards for various studies focused on PTSI and improving PSP health and well-being. In December 2017, he was awarded an $8.9 million contract by the federal government to conduct a study on the effects of policing on the mental health of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers.
 
He was recently awarded $989,925 by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s (CIHR) Mental Wellness in Public Safety Team Grants to conduct a 3-year study that involves adapting the framework developed during the RCMP Study and expanding it to support all PSP. The 3-year project received additional support including $47,250 from the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency to support its technology needs, as well as a total of almost $795,000 of in-kind support from public safety partners in firefighting, paramedicine, and policing, as well as the RCMP and the University of Regina.
 
Carleton describes the Royal-Mach-Gaensslen Prize as a “gratifying and a wonderful recognition” of his life’s work. “I'm extremely grateful, honoured, and humbled given the list of previous recipients and, as always, success is a team effort, so I'm very thankful to our entire team.” Dr. Carleton says the award inspires him by “affirming we’re making positive differences in the mental health of PSP.” He looks forward to continuing his efforts to support PSP, their leaders, and their families. To learn more about Dr. Carleton and his work at CIPSRT, please visit: https://www.cipsrt-icrtsp.ca/.

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