Psychology students share knowledge about mental health in community lecture series

February 14, 2023

Woman sits on dock, meditating. Photo by leninscape, from Pixabay

Story by Keri Ferguson, photo by leninscape (Pixabay)

Western graduate students in clinical psychology are eager to share their expertise and research with members of the London, Ont. community in the upcoming Finding Your Way lecture series. 

The annual program, now in its 15th year, offers the opportunity for students to present evidence-based information, with the goal of helping educate the public on topics related to mental health. 

The students will deliver 14 lectures over three days at the London Central Library and online Friday, Feb. 24; Saturday, Feb. 25 and Tuesday, Feb. 28.  

The series focuses on ‘the psychology of everyday life’, covering a wide range of topics, from the effects of trauma on the brain and body to healthy aging and coping with chronic pain. One session will feature a question-and-answer panel with three psychologists from the London Health Sciences Centre. 

Alex Hawkins, public services librarian at the London Central Library, said the series aligns well with the library’s strategic plan to collaborate with London community members in providing access to knowledge. 

“This event is really valuable to our patrons,” she said. “The variety of topics regarding everyday psychology are interesting and important, particularly since we are coming off two really hard years of the pandemic. We’re happy to welcome the students back and have our patrons learn tips and tricks they can apply in their everyday lives.” 

Research for the ‘real world’ 

Clinical psychology PhD candidates Haley Green and Emma Stewart are co-organizers of the lecture series, under the supervision of professor Leora Swartzman and professor David Dozois, chair of the clinical psychology graduate program. Green and Stewart are both excited the series can be offered in-person again, after participating virtually the past two years.  

“While there’s still the opportunity for people to attend online, it will be nice to be in the same room with the audience, to see their faces and be more present with them,” said Green, who will lead a mindfulness workshop.  

She also welcomes the opportunity to present her findings in lay terms and in a way to help others improve their mental health and well-being.

“As people who are learning to be psychologists, I think we feel an obligation to use our training and expertise to help our community,” she said. “Ultimately, we’re training to conduct research or a clinical practice, hoping to have some positive effect on lessening the burden of mental disorders. Giving these talks is a community outreach-focused way to do that.” 

Stewart, who is presenting a talk on emotion regulation, also appreciates the feedback and interaction a live audience brings.

“When you’re writing papers, you never really know who’s reading them, or if it’s just other researchers,” Stewart said. “It’s great to have a chance not to just contribute to research, but to know it’s benefiting people in the real world.”