The NorthBEAT Project (2012-15) was a descriptive research project, funded by the Sick Kids Foundation in partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), that explored the service needs of adolescents who experience psychosis in Northern Ontario.


Principal Investigator:

  • Chiachen Cheng (St. Joseph’s Care Group)


  • Carolyn S. Dewa (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto) – Project Mentor
  • Bruce Minore (Lakehead University) – Project Mentor
  • Jane Fogolin (St. Joseph’s Care Group, Northern Ontario School of Medicine)
  • Mae Katt (Lakehead University)


Psychosis, caused by serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, can devastate youth and their families. Psychosis requires early intervention and minimal duration of untreated illness for the best outcomes. Early psychosis intervention (EPI) is an evidence-based intervention to treat young people in the early stages of psychotic illness. EPI is an innovative, complex model consisting of core components including early detection and access facilitation.

In Northern Ontario (a region with an expansive geography and many Indigenous communities), programs struggle to understand and meet service needs.  NorthBEAT is a 3-year, descriptive, mixed-methods research project which sought to understand the mental health service needs of youth who experience psychosis in Northern Ontario.


Research Question

What are the perceived service needs of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth in Northern Ontario who experience first episode psychosis?


  • To understand how youth in Northern Ontario experience early psychosis and services for psychosis;
  • To understand what are the barriers to youth receiving appropriate EPI;
  • To examine Indigenous youth as a significant and vulnerable population in Northern Ontario.


Research Findings

2018 Final Results & Next Steps of the NorthBEAT Project, 2018 CAHR Research Showcase (pdf)

The NorthBEAT Project (2012-15) was funded by Sick Kids Foundation in partnership with CIHR.

NorthBEAT (Barriers to Early Assessment and Treatment) is a collaborative of researchers and service providers across Northern Ontario with an interest in improving the system of care for youth with psychosis.

NorthBEAT Coordinating Team. Left to Right: Carole Lem, Dr. Shevaun Nadin, Dr. Chiachen Cheng

Coordinating Team

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.

Shevaun Nadin, PhD | NorthBEAT Research Coordinator

Dr. Shevaun Nadin joined St. Joseph’s Care Group in 2013 as the Research Coordinator to the NorthBEAT Project. With research interests that span a variety of health topics, Dr. Nadin is particularly interested in program evaluation as a means of understanding health needs and improving health programs and services. A PhD graduate in psychology from Carleton University, she has worked on numerous research and evaluation projects, including projects conducted independently as well as through the Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health and the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research (Lakehead University). Dr. Nadin is an External Adjunct Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Lakehead University and an active member of the Canadian Evaluation Society and American Evaluation Association.

Carole Lem, BA | NorthBEAT Research Assistant

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.

NorthBEAT is supported by the Centre for Applied Health Research at St. Joseph's Care Group in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Northern Ontario School of Medicine