Team - SPRING

Principal Investigator

Rob Whitley

Rob Whitley is the Principal Investigator of the Social Psychiatry Research and Interest Group (SPRING) at the Douglas Hospital Research Center. He is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. His three main research interests are recovery, stigma and men’s mental health. He takes a human rights approach to his activities, using his research results to push for change to promote recovery and diminish stigma.

He has published over 100 papers in the field of social psychiatry, and his work has been funded by CIHR, FRQ-S, SSHRC, the Movember Foundation, the MHCC, NIDRR (U.S.), and the MRC (U.K). He is currently the recipient of an FRQ-S Junior 2 Research Scholar Award. His current projects include (i) the creation and evaluation of awareness-raising videos for use in anti-stigma workshops run by people with mental illness; (ii) a longitudinal analysis of the tone and content of media coverage of mental illness in Canada; (iii) an ethnography of young men participating in the ‘seduction community’.

While the focus of his activities is in Quebec and Canada, he is proud to be a member of a worldwide community of scholars devoted to promoting recovery and reducing stigma. As such, he maintains strong collaborations with numerous institutions, including the University of Melbourne, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and the University of Nottingham.

Whitley is always available to discuss recovery, stigma and men’s mental health with interested parties, and hopes one day to live in a world where people with mental illness can fulfill their potential and enjoy their full rights, free of fear and stigma.

PhD Students

William Affleck
William Affleck is a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. His doctoral research examines trauma among Tamil men in Sri Lanka, and recently arrived Sri Lankan immigrants to Canada. His interests include trauma disorders, men’s mental health, and psychiatric research ethics. He has received a CIHR Banting doctoral award, and a doctoral and postdoctoral award from the Fonds de Recherche du Québec Santé. His work has been published in journals such as Social Science and Medicine and the American Journal of Men’s Health.

Ria Agustina
Ria Agustina is a doctoral student in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Indonesia and a Masters in Psychiatry Research from Kings College London. Prior to starting her doctoral program, Ria worked in the NGO and private sector in the field of education, social and behavioural change, and human development in Indonesia. Her doctoral research examines the stigma of psychosis in Indonesia, and she is funded by the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education Scholarship.

Marie Eve Boucher
Marie Eve Boucher is a doctoral student in the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University. She holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in anthropology, both from Concordia University. Her doctoral thesis is examining barriers and facilitators towards recovery among diverse ethno-cultural groups. She is a skilled qualitative researcher, with field experience working in West Africa, as well as in the private sector.

Sara Houshmand
Sara Houshmand is a doctoral student in Counselling Psychology at McGill University, where she also received a Master's degree. Her doctoral dissertation is examining coping responses to subtle, everyday forms of racism. Sara's research interests include multicultural counselling and psychology. She was awarded a SSHRC doctoral scholarship.

Ashley J. Lemieux
Ashley Lemieux is a PhD candidate in the department of Psychiatry at McGill. She holds a Bachelors degree in psychology from the University of Ottawa and a Masters degree in counseling sexology from the Université du Québec à Montréal. Her doctoral work focuses on the trajectories of recovery in mental illness of homeless individuals with criminal justice involvement. She has received a doctoral award from the Fonds de Recherche du Québec, Société et Culture, has been awarded a Graduate Excellence Fellowships in Mental Health Research from McGill University, and has received a Doctoral Research Scholarship from the Vulnerability, Social Integration and Violence (VISEV) group.

Undergraduate Students

Jacky Zhou
Jacky Zhou is an undergraduate at McGill University, double-majoring in psychology and sociology. He is currently working as a research assistant for the seduction community project, and completing an independent reading course with Dr Whitley. His research interests include alternative therapy methods as well as transdiagnostic treatment. As a public figure in China, he hopes to use his influence to destigmatize mental illness and help with academic outreach. 

Rachel Catterall
Rachel Catterall is an undergraduate at McGill University, majoring in biochemistry with a minor in biotechnology. She has worked on projects focusing on the media's portrayal of mental illness as well as men's mental health. In the future, she would like to pursue a career that links her passion for mental health and her background in biological sciences.

Sacha Fernandez
Sacha Fernandez is an undergraduate at McGill University majoring in psychology and minoring in behavioral science and sociology. She recently worked for Dr. Whitley helping in the analysis of media coverage of mental illness. She also helped conduct a literature review examining stigma, gender and mental health. She is currently completing an independent reading course with Dr. Whitley. She hopes to pursue higher-education in psychology.

Research Staff

Victoria Carmichael
Victoria Carmichael is the research manager of the Social Psychiatry Research and Interest Group (SPRING). She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from McGill University. Her research interests include men’s mental health, suicide and alternative social interventions, and she hopes to pursue these interests through a Masters of Public Health. She is currently managing a number of ongoing projects.

Robby Reis
Robby Reis is a filmmaker based in Montreal, currently working as the lead videographer on Whitley’s participatory video project. He obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production at Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. He is co-founder of Natali Film, a Montreal based Production Company. His films include Feeding the Raging Heart, Hellbound for Baja, Suha and he is currently producing his first feature length documentary entitled Drive Home Safe. His recent projects have screened at the MoMA, the Lincoln Center for the Arts, Les Rendez-vous du Cinema Québecois and the Philadelphia Independent Film Fest.

Derreck Roemer
Derreck Roemer is an award-winning Toronto-based filmmaker whose films have been screened and broadcast across the globe. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Guelph and is co-founder of Insurgent Projects, a production company that creates everything from web content to one-off documentaries for theatrical release and broadcast. Currently, Derreck is the videographer at the Toronto site of Whitley’s participatory video project. He is also in development on a new feature-length documentary about addiction called 19 Days.

Stephanie Young
Stephanie Young is a filmmaker, artist, and activist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University where she studied film production and fine art. Her two most recent films, Scarlines (2013) and Masculins (2014) have screened at film festivals across the country. In 2014, she received a Canadian Progress Women of Excellence Award in Arts and Culture for her film work. In addition to filmmaking and freelance videography, Stephanie also works part time at Laing House as a Peer Support Worker. She is the videographer at the Halifax site for the participatory video project.