Dr. Jacqueline Smith, RN, PhD
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Faculty of Nursing
Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education
Drug Free Kids Canada
Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute
PhD, University of Calgary, 2015
MN, University of Calgary, 2011
BN, University of Calgary, 2009
Diploma Nursing, Foothills Hospital School of Nursing, 1986
Jacqueline Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary and is the team lead for the Mental Health & Wellness Community of Learners. She is an educator, graduate student supervisor and a published researcher within her field of study and research that addresses addiction and mental health across the life span. In 2021, Smith was awarded a large 5-year grant from the Calgary Health Foundation to explore the multiple levels of mental illness stigma within the health-care system.
In addition to her academic responsibilities, Jacqueline is a family counsellor, trauma (EMDR) therapist and a mindfulness practitioner. She is a member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Mathison Centre for Mental Health Education and Research, and sits the Advisory Committee for Drug Free Kids Canada.
Areas of Research
One in five Canadians will experience mental health-related issues in any given year. For many patients and families, an emergency department visit may reflect their first point of contact with the health-care system for a mental illness, says Dr. Jacqueline Smith, assistant professor in the Faculty of Nursing and EMBER principal investigator.
Working in conjunction with Foothills Hospital Emergency Services, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Calgary Health Foundation, the researchers will examine the issue of mental illness stigma through the Exploring Mental health Barriers in Emergency Rooms (EMBER) study.
While there is an awareness of mental illness stigma within health-care systems, very few studies address more than one level of stigma and almost all studies focus on interpersonal stigma. “We want to extend those boundaries and explore stigma holistically on multiple levels (intrapersonal, interpersonal and institutional) in an Emergency Services setting, by utilizing multiple stakeholder participants,” says Smith.
Although universities are increasingly promoting mental health, they also demand high performance from faculty members. This exploratory qualitative study describes how environmental factors, social interactions, personal experiences, and stigma affect mental health and help-seeking. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine faculty members who self-identified as having mental health/illness related concerns. Using Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems framework and thematic analysis, four domains affecting faculty members’ mental health were determined: 1) macrosystem (influences of academic culture); 2) mesosystem (influences of faculty leadership and interpersonal dynamics); 3) microsystem (influences of individual mental health experiences); and 4) exosystem (influences of stigma across structural, interpersonal, and intrapersonal levels). Sub-themes represented barriers and facilitators to mental health as well as help-seeking or accessing support. Findings suggested that competitiveness and individualism may be perpetuating stereotypes that mental illnesses are inherent weaknesses, and that seeking help is a barrier to academic success. Recommendations for future research are provided.
Families play a critical role in supporting adolescents with substance use disorders. Little research has been done to investigate interventions targeting the significant stress of caring for an adolescent with problematic substance use and its subsequent impact on self-compassion in families. The aim of this pilot study was to trial an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as a post treatment aftercare intervention among female caregivers of youth with substance use disorders. Forty-three female caregivers were recruited and randomly assigned to either a treatment (n = 21) or a waitlist control group (n = 22). Participants completed surveys pre/ post-intervention to assess perceived stress and self-compassion. Qualitative interviews at post-intervention were designed to explore participants’ perceptions and experiences of the MBSR program. Five main themes captured the participants’ experience: improved self-compassion, increased capacity to manage stress, enhanced interpersonal effectiveness, improved overall physical wellness, and benefits of attending the program with women who have shared experience. Overall, this pilot MBSR program was found to significantly enhance the participants’ sense of well-being through reducing their perceived stress and increasing self-compassion. These findings show promise that MBSR may be an effective intervention for caregivers of youth with substance use disorders.
Substance use disorder is a complex phenomenon that affects people in many different contexts. Adolescent substance abuse within families is a particular problem that merits ongoing study. In particular, the experiences of mothers in this context are not fully explored. In this narrative inquiry study, we explored the experiences of four mothers parenting children through long-term substance abuse treatment. Participants were recruited from a family-orientated long-term adolescent treatment center in Alberta, Canada. The mothers’ experiences were explored within a three-dimensional narrative inquiry space of temporal, social, and situated experience. Four narrative accounts were co-composed, revealing personal, familial, social, and substance abuse–related complexities in mothers’ experiences. Four narrative threads were also theorized: navigating complexities; loud silences; places, spaces, and the in-between; and living within one another’s stories. These narrative threads are discussed in relation to health and social care practices. Recommendations for practice and research are made.
The University of Calgary’s Cannabis Café: Education and Harm Reduction Initiative – Facilitator’s Guide has been formally endorsed by: Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) and The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education
In recognition of the potential harms associated with cannabis use, the Government of Canada made a commitment to educating Canadians about the risks and harms of cannabis use, and to preventing high-risk patterns of consumption (Health Canada, 2018b). The shift in legal status has created important opportunities for open conversations both on and off campus, which includes dissemination of public health information to better educate young adult Canadians about cannabis use and their health (Mader, Smith, Smith & Christensen, 2020).
The Cannabis Café is an education-based resource targeted for post-secondary students that has been developed in consultation with students, researchers, clinicians and campus based mental health providers. The Cannabis Café consists of three major activities; Trivia, a World Café and goal setting. This resource facilitates meaningful and evidence informed conversations on the topic of cannabis and aims to provide students with opportunities to discuss (1) science-based information versus misinformation, (2) personal experiences and beliefs, and (3) cannabis-related stereotypes.