Our Origin Story
The NorthBEAT Collaborative was born in 2012 as a research project, and evolved into a strategic systems collaborative in 2017. The research project explored the barriers youth experience psychosis in Northern Ontario face along their pathway to care. The research findings showed that while some youth experience direct care pathways, many were convoluted; in short, we learned that youth are not getting the care they need, when they need it. An important theme that emerged from the interviews was the importance of knowledge about psychosis. Many youth turned to non-specialist services for help and were either led down a longer-than-necessary path to Early Psychosis Intervention (EPI), or were turned away completely. NorthBEAT’s lead, Dr. Chi Cheng, saw an opportunity for NorthBEAT to put knowledge into action quickly and effectively to help improve care pathways for youth.
NorthBEAT proposed the development of a strategic systems collaborative which would help build capacity around psychosis in Northwestern Ontario, and applied for funding from the Ontario Trillium Funding Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF at OTF). In May 2017, Dr. Cheng and the NorthBEAT Collaborative were awarded a four-year YOF at OTF grant. The NorthBEAT Collaborative will use the funding to improve the system of care to detect psychosis symptoms early on, and enable youth living in Northwestern Ontario to access appropriate services. The project is designed to improve connections between sectors, redesign existing resources, and build the capacity of service providers.
Youth with psychosis in Northwestern Ontario do not get the help they need, when they need it. We’re going to change that.
CHIACHEN CHENG, MD, FRCP(C), MPH
NORTHBEAT LEAD / PHYSICIAN RESEARCHER
Dr. Chiachen (Chi) Cheng completed her Psychiatry residencies at McMaster University, a clinical fellowship in Early Psychosis Intervention (EPI) at McMaster University, and a Master’s of Public Health at Harvard University. Dr. Cheng’s primary research interests are Early Psychosis Intervention, evidence based practice as it interfaces with paediatric mental health policy, and models of care for vulnerable populations in rural/remote settings. Her research has examined program implementation and development, fidelity to EPI standards, evaluation of EPI training for healthcare workers, delivery of EPI services in rural and remote regions, and pathways to care among vulnerable populations (e.g., youth, Indigenous people). Dr. Cheng was awarded a 3-year New Investigator Research Award from the Sick Kids Foundation and Canadian Institutes of Health Research for The NorthBEAT Project in 2012. In 2017, Dr. Cheng and the NorthBEAT team received a 4-year Ontario Trillium Foundation Youth Opportunities Fund grant to support the NorthBEAT Collaborative. This diverse collaborative will improve coordination of care, build capacity to detect psychosis symptoms early, and enhance access to appropriate services for youth with psychosis who live in Northwestern Ontario.
CAROLE LEM, BA
NORTHBEAT ASSISTANT / KNOWLEDGE BROKER
Carole joined St. Joseph’s Care Group in 2012 as Research Assistant to “The NorthBEAT Project”. Working alongside Drs. Cheng and Nadin on NorthBEAT and its follow-up initiatives, Carole has a keen interest in stakeholder engagement and knowledge translation in the social media age. She is particularly interested in applying the principles of strategic communications to research dissemination to increase accessibility and uptake for knowledge users. Carole has worked in Research and Strategic Communications since 2009, and completed the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s SPARK Knowledge Translation training in 2014. Carole has also supported Ontario’s Early Psychosis Intervention Network (EPION) with their knowledge exchange and strategic communications initiatives. Carole holds a Bachelor’s degree from York University, and is completing her Master’s in Public Relations via Mount Saint Vincent University.
DOUG EDDINGTON, BA, SSW
NORTHBEAT ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR
Doug Eddington joined NorthBEAT in 2018 as Engagement Coordinator for the NorthBEAT Collaborative. With frontline experience in a wide range of community and social services, Doug is particularly passionate about helping youth and vulnerable populations access services and supports. Doug brings his experience in program development, child and youth work, community health services, early psychosis intervention, and resource coordination to the NorthBEAT Collaborative team. He is especially looking forward to the opportunity to build connections with stakeholders and services within the region. Doug holds a diploma in Social Service Work from Confederation College and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Lakehead University.
HEATHER ZACHOZY, BSW
Heather Zachozy joined St. Joseph’s Care Group in 2018 as Research Intern for the NorthBEAT Collaborative. Heather graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from University of Windsor in 2016. Originally from Fort Frances, Heather is excited to return to Northwestern Ontario and help make a difference for the youth and families in the region. Heather is passionate about youth mental health and the powerful influence that youth voices can have on service delivery. Heather is excited to join the NorthBEAT team and the opportunity to keep the perspectives of youth and families at the forefront of the NorthBEAT Collaborative’s activities.
MARIA FORGET, BSW
NORTHBEAT SUMMER RESEARCH STUDENT
Maria Forget joined NorthBEAT in 2019 as our Research Summer Student. Maria is a graduate of the Honours Bachelor of Social Work program at Lakehead University, and will start the Master of Social Work program in fall 2019. Maria has a keen interest in trauma and plans to focus her thesis on acute trauma within families of origin. Maria has had many placement and volunteer experiences working with youth and families and believes in advocating for those who are facing barriers in our society. Optimistic about any learning opportunities, Maria is grateful to work alongside the team this summer to learn about NorthBEAT and contribute to the growth of the Collaborative.