Although nutrition and mental health is becoming an area of increasing investigative interest, no specific research agendas to help guide research, policy, and practice currently exist.
Based on evidence that mixed approaches that engage diverse stakeholders with an experiential understanding of the nutrition and mental health system generate meaningful action plans, an integrated, citizen-engaged research agenda-setting project, Dietitians and Community Mental Health: Setting the Research Agenda, was conducted from 2013 to 2014. This national initiative was a collaborative effort of Dietitians of Canada (DC), Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario, and the University of British Columbia, with funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
The consultation process engaged researchers, policymakers, service providers, persons with lived experience of mental illness and/or family members of persons living with mental health conditions. The end result was the formulation of a Canadian nutrition and mental health research agenda ultimately aimed at the optimization of nutrition and mental health services in community settings.
“This is a major new frontier in mental health that is long overdue, and I think the survey is an excellent step.” — Family member, researcher, advocate
Developing the Research Agenda
The national nutrition and mental health research agenda-setting project was a mixed methods, participatory initiative that involved five steps.
For details around methods and results, see Dietitians and Community Mental Health: Setting the Research Agenda — Final Project Report (PDF).
“I want to commend you on this much needed research agenda. As an advocate for both food security and mental illness, I look forward to exciting new research in this field.” — Lived experience, student, volunteer
Moving the Research Agenda Forward
Since the completion of the CIHR-funded consultation, project team members have done preliminary work in presenting the findings at various conferences and in scientific publications. However, more targeted work is required to fully disseminate the results and effectively engage investigators and knowledge users to act on the findings in research, practice, and policy-making.
NEXT STEPS: See Moving the Research Agenda Forward