Dr. Barbara Mitchell awarded Michael Smith Health Research BC C2 Award

October 13, 2022

Dr. Barbara Mitchell is the recipient of the Michael Smith Health Research BC Convening and Collaborating (C2) Award for her project researching the resiliency and mental health of older Punjabi women in British Columbia.

SFU’s Department of Gerontology Professor, Dr. Barbara Mitchell received $15,000 in funding from the Michael Smith Health Research BC (Health Research BC) C2 Program

Dr. Mitchell’s project is titled: “The role of a culturally sensitive community-based health promotion program: Addressing resiliency and mental health for older Punjabi women in British Columbia.” 

South Asians make up 60 percent of the Canadian immigrant population, with Punjabis being the fastest-growing subpopulation of this demographic in BC. Because many Punjabi women have low health literacy skills and face cultural stigmas around mental health, community-based health promotion (CBHP) programs are needed; however, such programs have typically focused on supporting White affluent groups. This project will address these gaps and examine the CBHP program, Healing Through Ancient Teachings developed for Punjabi women aged 50+ to develop coping mechanisms to manage their mental health. 

The 13-week program was originally created by community advocate Ms. Jas Cheema who has been serving the Punjabi community in BC for 35+ years. As a certified yoga teacher, Jas includes light yoga, meditation, and discussion in her CBHP program. The proposed project will provide an opportunity to convene the CBHP program to work with research users to collaboratively identify recommendations for future programs. Based on the findings, a report will be co-created with research users to inform the development of culturally appropriate and linguistically acceptable CBHP programs for Punjabi women and other growing ethnocultural communities in BC.

The research trainee (Sandeep Dhillon) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Gerontology at SFU, supervised by Dr. Mitchell. The proposed project will assist Dhillon in developing her dissertation research. It focuses on older-aged Punjabi women in BC and issues related to their mental health/psycho-social well-being. Overall, this funding will help her to develop and evaluate community-based programs, raise awareness on taboo topics, and offer coping skills/resources to the Punjabi community.