"I knew that the MPH program would give me a strong foundation to understand how public health can play a role in improving mental health at the population-level while also emphasizing equity and social justice."

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Student Profile: Mari del Casal

March 11, 2022
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master's student in the Faculty of Health Sciences

I am a second-year Master of Public Health Student in the Faculty of Health Science (FHS) and a member of the Capturing Health and Resilence Trajectories (CHART) Lab. My research interests are broadly situated in the realm of population and public mental health with a particular focus on youth, mental health services, and policy. Prior to starting the MPH program, I also worked in community mental health where I supported adults living with mental illness.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I previously completed my undergraduate degree at SFU in Psychology. After working in the community for a number of years, I recognized a need to focus on the social determinants of mental health and early prevention. I was familiar with some of the faculty members in FHS and I knew that I wanted to potentially work with them to expand my opportunities in the field. In addition, I knew that the MPH program would give me a strong foundation to understand how public health can play a role in improving mental health at the population-level while also emphasizing equity and social justice.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

My research aims to understand barriers to accessing mental health services among teens in BC. Adolescence is a critical period of time developmentally and parallels the age of onset for a majority of mental health conditions. Yet, there is a growing proportion of youth who report having an unmet mental health need. The aim of this research is to identify the overarching barriers to mental health care for youth, while also identifying barriers unique to specific populations which may experience greater disparities in mental health.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

Despite not being able to come to campus for the first year of my program, I appreciated having a wonderful cohort to connect with over Zoom. I have also enjoyed working my supervisor, Dr. Hasina Samji, and the CHART lab team. Thanks to them and the MPH program in general, I have been exposed to many learning opportunities which have helped me grow as a student, as a researcher, and as a future public health practitioner.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

I am grateful to have been awarded the Community Engaged Research Institute (CERi) Graduate Research Fellowship and the Dr. Nancy Hall Graduate Award in Public Health. These awards have helped support me and my thesis research.

 

Contact : mdelcasa@sfu.ca

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