Ellen Tsaprailis, January 12, 2022
Photo credit: Lindsay Ralph
Maria Rogers Named the New Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Mental Health and Well-Being
In her first year at Carleton University, Psychology Associate Professor Maria Rogers has been awarded a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Mental Health and Well-Being. The prestigious designation provides Rogers the means to facilitate a better understanding between children’s mental health and their experiences in the education system.
“The individual and societal costs of mental health problems in childhood are substantial and well-known. We know far less, however, about how mental health difficulties in childhood impact children’s learning and experiences at school.”
“The overarching goal of my research program is to bring together these two sustaining and meaningful domains of child development—mental health and education,” says Rogers, a practicing clinical psychologist and member of the NunatuKavut community. “By advancing our understanding of child and youth mental health and its associated educational impacts, we can fundamentally divert negative trajectories and reduce suffering of some of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Children with mental health and neurodevelopmental disabilities have been documented to experience greater risks for academic underachievement, poor engagement and poor participation in school.
A large part of Rogers’ research will examine how relationships affect the well-being of children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This includes teacher-student relationships, parent-child relationships, and even teacher-parent relationships. Through this research, Rogers hopes to foster high-quality relationships for at-risk children.
“My research team is looking at the child and family mental health needs of children and youth who are chronically absent from school. School attendance problems have come into a new light recently, and more children are missing school than ever before,” says Rogers. “We hope to find ways to improve family well-being in order to promote school attendance.”
Since education is one of the primary social determinants of health for children, understanding the school lives of children and the intersection of their mental health and family well-being is critical says Rogers. ADHD is the second-most prevalent diagnosis in childhood, behind anxiety disorders.
“What we see is that despite these kids having average intellectual abilities, they experience more mental health difficulties, more family relationship problems, and far greater educational underachievement compared to their neurotypical peers. I’m particularly interested in parents and teachers and how they can foster healthy development in that population of kids,” says Rogers.
Research Will Also Explore Pandemic Impact
Mental health in children and youth were already heading towards a crisis level before the pandemic began with one in every five Canadian children experiencing at least one mental health challenge under the age of 18. According to Rogers, mental health issues are now in a full-blown crisis.
“All children in Canada have been dramatically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but children and youth with pre-existing mental health conditions and neurodevelopmental disabilities have been disproportionately impacted,” says Rogers. “My research team is following a large, nationally-representative sample of children and families affected by ADHD in order to understand the impact of the pandemic on this population and its ripple effects over the coming years.”
Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs
Tier 2 Chairs are intended for emerging scholars who have demonstrated particular research creativity and innovation, with the potential to achieve international recognition in their fields, as well as showing a strong commitment to attracting and developing excellent trainees, students and future researchers.
The Government of Canada established its Canada Research Chairs program in 2000.
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