Shepard, Blythe

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    Informal and formal mental health: preliminary qualitative findings
    (Co-Action Publishing, 2013) O'Neill, Linda; George, Serena; Koehn, Corinne; Shepard, Blythe
    Background. Northern-based research on mental health support, no matter the specific profession, helps to inform instruction of new practitioners and practitioners already working in rural or isolated conditions. Understanding the complexities of northern mental health support not only benefits clients and practitioners living in the North, but also helps prepare psychologists and counsellors preparing to work in other countries with large rural and isolated populations. The qualitative phase is part of a multi-year research study on informal and formal mental health support in northern Canada involving the use of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods. Objective. The main objective of the qualitative phase interviews was to document in-depth the situation of formal and informal helpers in providing mental health support in isolated northern communities in northern British Columbia, northern Alberta, Yukon and Northwest Territories (NWT). The intent of in-depth interviews was to collect descriptive information on the unique working conditions of northern helping practitioners for the development of a survey and subsequent community action plans for helping practitioner support. Design. Twenty participants in northern BC, Yukon and NWT participated in narrative interviews. Consensual qualitative research (CQR) was used in the analysis completed by 7 researchers. The principal researcher and research associate then worked through all 7 analyses, defining common categories and themes, and using selections from each researcher in order to ensure that everyone’s analysis was represented in the final consensual summary. Results. The preliminary results include 7 main categories consisting of various themes. Defining elements of northern practice included the need for generalist knowledge and cultural sensitivity. The task of working with and negotiating membership in community was identified as essential for northern mental health support. The need for revised codes of ethics relevant to the reality of northern work was a major category, as was insight on how to best sustain northern practice. Conclusion. Many of the practitioners who participated in this study have found ways to overcome the biggest challenges of northern practice, yet the limitations of small populations and lack of resources in small communities to adequately address mental health support were identified as existing. Empowering communities by building community capacity to educate, supervise and support formal and informal mental health workers may be the best approach to overcoming the lack of external resources.
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    Household survey results Slave lake, AB 2012 : technical report
    (University of Lethbridge, 2012) Kulig, Judith Celene; Townshend, Ivan; Awosoga, Olu A.; Shepard, Blythe; Reimer, William; Edge, Dana; Lightfoot, Nancy
    Results of a household survey that was conducted to assess the following variables within a larger population within the Slave Lake area postwildfire: 1. What were the evacuation experiences of the Slave Lake area residents? 2. What were the impacts of the wildfires on the families and children that experienced it? 3. What were the impacts of the wildfires on the community’s social relations?
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    Families and children : responses to wildfires--links to community resiliency
    (University of Lethbridge, 2012) Kulig, Judith Celene; Pujadas Botey, Anna; Townshend, Ivan; Awosoga, Olu A.; Shepard, Blythe; Edge, Dana; Reimer, William; Lightfoot, Nancy
    Understanding the impacts of wildfires on families and children is in its infancy. The mixed methods study reported here offers insights and perspectives that can be considered for future research on the topic. Simultaneously, continuing to examine resiliency within communities that are challenged by adversity will also enhance our understanding of topics vital to disaster planning and mitigation. In this way, we can identify services and policies that will be useful for health and human services, community development and disaster management.
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    School survey results Slave Lake, AB 2012 technical report
    (University of Lethbridge, 2012) Kulig, Judith Celene; Townshend, Ivan; Awosoga, Olu A.; Shepard, Blythe
    The objective of the school survey was to examine the impacts of the fire on children, and particularly the manifestation of post-traumatic stress and coping difficulties, and to explore changes in these characteristics through time. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by reliving a psychologically traumatic situation, long after any physical danger involved has passed, through flashbacks and nightmares. Other psychiatric, social, or behavioural disorders may also manifest as a result of such trauma. The research team provided input into the questionnaire design over the months of August 2011 to November 2011. Where possible, previously tested and robust survey items were incorporated into the body of the questionnaire. In this case, we included two well-known and robust screening instruments: one to screen for post traumatic stress, and the other to identify strengths and difficulties.