Carleton University has launched a new virtual space that will make mental health research more accessible. The Mental Health and Well-being Research and Training Hub (MeWeRTH) brings together faculty members, external researchers, students, practitioners, community organizations, and people with an interest in mental health. MeWeRTH’s ultimate goal is to share research that can make a positive impact on people’s lives.

“The vision for this virtual space is to connect researchers, students and knowledge users to improve mental health and well-being in our communities,” said Joanna Pozzulo, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, who is also the director of MeWeRTH.

The Hub aims to make research accessible locally and globally. Important research is taking place, but there can be bottlenecks in getting it to the public. Research is often shared in the academic community, but may not be translated in a way that can be used by the public.

“The launch of this new virtual Hub helps fulfill the critical “Strive for Wellness” direction of our recently released Strategic Integrated Plan,” said Carleton President Benoit-Antoine Bacon. “As a MeWeRTH Hub research member, I am particularly excited that the explicit mandate of the group is both high-level research and impact in the community.”

Hub researcher Cheryl Harasymchuk has been studying the impact of the pandemic on romantic relationships. During lockdowns, couples were forced into close quarters like never before. Reports of a surge in divorce rates proliferated, but some couples managed the adversity better than others.

“Over a six-week period, we tracked 200 people,’’ said Harasymchuk, who conducted the research with Prof.  Prof. Nassim Tabri. “We looked at stressors related to health and finances, and what connection they had with relationship decline.

“We thought of relationship decline as feeling disconnected from your partner, having thoughts of separation, and thoughts of alternative types of relationships. We wanted to look at what makes some couples more resilient—what decreased the association between stress and relationship decline.”

They found that more resilient relationships had two key characteristics.

“The association between stress and relationship decline decreased for people that had partners that were more responsive—who paid attention to their needs,” said Harasymchuk. “The other was people who reported they had social support from others in their network had a weaker relationship between stress and relationship decline.”

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