Student Researcher Profile: Dr. Amanda Slaunwhite

Dr. Amanda Slaunwhite
Post-Doctoral Fellow, New Brunswick

Born and raised in Williamswood, Nova Scotia Dr. Amanda Slaunwhite joined the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU) New Brunswick node in March of 2014 as Post-Doctoral Fellow with a research focus of child and youth mental health and addictions and access to care.

As a young girl, Amanda aspired to be an artist. Water colors, gouache and metal smith (jewelry); are still passions of hers but it was her time spent on Parliament Hill after her undergraduate degree at Dalhousie that lead to her become a researcher. “I worked with researchers that recently completed the Out of the Shadows At Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction services in Canada Senate report. It really opened my eyes to the issues caregivers and families with lived experiences are facing, which piqued my interest in becoming a health services researcher,” Slaunwhite explained.

Dr. Slaunwhite went on to complete her Ph.D. in British Columbia (BC) at the University of Victoria. She had the opportunity to work at the Centre for Addictions Research of BC and the BC Ministry of Health. She is now working as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of New Brunswick under the guidance of Dr. Paul Peters.

“Here in the Maritimes we don’t have what British Colombia and Ontario have –large populations that allow for a system of care and the provision of a variety of community-based, acute care and tertiary services. We have a small diverse population with substance use challenges, and real struggles to obtain care.”

After further studies, Amanda decided to add a focus on children and youth as she saw the trends in the health services utilization of two groups (adults living with mental health and addictions and children and youth) but identified a lack of research in Eastern Canada. Recently, Amanda has been working alongside Dr. Scott Ronis, Co-Principal Investigator of the ACCESS Mental Health project – an Atlantic Canada-based research project examining how youth with five mental health conditions access services.

“My research looks at child/youth access to care and their health care utilization. This type of patient-oriented research speaks to the greater issue of the appropriateness of care and whether the services available meet the needs of the population. The New Brunswick Institute for Research Data and Training (NB IRDT) and tools such as ArcGIS have been key components of my research at UNB,” says Slaunwhite.

Dr. Slaunwhite sees the MSSU and the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation as two important resources that allow her promote her research and findings to the wider community both provincially and throughout all of the Atlantic provinces.

“Coming from a rural Maritime community and having experience with persons that have mental health problems and substance abuse, I hope that my research will positively impact access to treatment for Maritimers.”

Follow Amanda on Twitter @prosretro