(Barry Coulter photo)

UBCO researchers investigating mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week is Oct. 1 to 7 in Kelowna

More than six million Canadians suffer from a mental illness.

As Canadians reflect on how best to accommodate this ever growing demographic during Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct. 1 to 7, researchers at UBC Okanagan are investigating the potential causes and its management, according to UBCO.

Dr. Charlotte Jones is studying the connection between hearing loss in seniors and their health-related quality of life. She has noted hearing loss can lead to social isolation, depression, incident dementia, cognitive deterioration and a decline in functional fitness, said UBCO.

Professor Andis Klegeris is exploring the link between inflammation and the loss of brain cell function, which may occur during illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. His findings suggest that factors such as exercise, which reduce peripheral inflammatory responses, may delay onset of some of these illnesses, according to UBCO.

Professor Lesley Lutes is examining the interplay between physical and mental health and how behaviour change treatment programs (e.g. weight loss and diabetes management) will only take hold if the associated mental or physical health condition is also treated, said UBCO.

In two recent large-scale clinical trials, she found that if individuals had severe pain, binge eating or feelings of distress related to their chronic condition, they were unable to benefit from the intervention.