Although exposure to violence is recognized as a critical factor in determining mental health outcomes (including depression, anxiety, behavioural problems, etc.), there has been little opportunity for investigators in mental health and addictions, child maltreatment and intimate partner violence to collaborate to develop and test approaches to reduce violence and associated poor outcomes. As a result, there is very little research evidence about effective interventions to reduce family violence and its consequences.
A main objective of our work is to bring people together (Theme 1) to identify ways to prevent violence – ideally before it happens, but also to prevent it from happening again, and to prevent the mental health problems (impairment) that can happen as a result of exposure to violence. The following diagram shows these prevention points and that interventions can be “targeted” – that is, developed for those at identified risk for violence, or “universal” – that is, applied to everyone in a given population, school, health care setting, community, etc.:
We believe that a very important way to think about helping people who have experienced violence is to understand resilience (Theme 2) – that is, how some people, even when exposed to these kinds of violence, go on to “survive and thrive” – what factors protect them from poor mental health outcomes in the face of trauma? How can we better understand these factors and use them to improve interventions and outcomes for those exposed to violence? Our Research Brief (pdf) on resilience describes this concept more fully.
Finally, new knowledge is only as good as how it’s applied in the “real world”; our Theme 3 area’s goal is to make sure that our work is shared with those who need this knowledge to make decisions in various areas, including providing health and social services, program planning, advocacy and policy-making.
All of our research is conducted according to a set of principles and values.