Parenting During The Pandemic
Indigenous Child Wellness Project
Family First Project
Building Regulation In Dual Generations (BRIDGE)
Parenting for PROS (Preschoolers’ Regulation Of Self)
Creating Connections/Creando Conexiones
Building an Understanding of Developmental Stress-management
Interactions Between Brain Function and Stress Physiology
Individual Differences in Neurocognitive Function
The ultimate goal of Hearts and Minds Lab clinical programming is to empower caregivers to build fun and rewarding parent-child relationships that are aligned with their family values. We aim to achieve this goal by developing targeted and scalable programs that can improve health, achievement, and well-being for parents and young children.
In addition to creating novel programs, we also consult with service agencies who are interested in addressing identified community needs. All clinical work aligns with principles and practices from the Frontiers of Innovation Network, where Dr. Roos consults on program evaluation.
Parenting of children with greater health, developmental, or behavioural support needs may lead to higher stress and mental health concerns due to increased parenting demands. Poor parent mental health can negatively affect children’s rehabilitation outcomes and family wellbeing. Specifically, poor parent mental health can lead to additional difficulty navigating complex treatment plans and attending healthcare appointments. Despite these risks, we know very little about the mental health needs of these parents and caregivers in Manitoba. This research project aims to better understand the mental health, support, and stress management needs of parents and caregivers whose young children (ages 0 – 12 years) are receiving or waiting for services from multiple local organizations. In the first part of this study, we will ask parents and caregivers to complete an online survey that will ask questions about their mental health, supports, and service needs. In the second part, we will ask service providers what they think would help caregivers of children with higher needs and how services could be changed to better support families. The results will help us see how services and service providers can adapt and develop supports to meet family needs.
Families are facing unprecedented challenges related to coping with a pandemic outbreak. As a result, families around the world have been asked to self-isolate if sick, practice social distancing, schools are temporarily closed, and many are facing job insecurity. The proposed research aims at developing an understanding of the impact that the pandemic is having on parent’s reported stress, mental health, and support needs. We propose inviting families to complete online questionnaires with parents who have at least one child aged 0 to 8 and women who are pregnant. Parents can opt-in for the opportunity to participate in a 30-minute follow-up interview. Parents of infants aged 0 to 24 months can also opt-in to submit a 10-minute voice recording of them during free-play with their infant. All parents can also choose to opt-in to be invited to participate in follow-up resource support, should these be developed by our team in the future.
BEAM is a mobile health platform (i.e., Smartphone/Tablet app) aimed at supporting the mental health needs of moms with new babies and young children. BEAM helps to address long-term family health needs across topics including mental health and parenting, with specific topics offered on an as-need basis such as baby sleep, partner conflict, and finance management. Moms will receive an 8-12-week therapeutic program delivered via weekly videos by our clinical team as well as online forums for parental support and discussion led by clinicians and wellness experts in the field. This project is in collaboration with the researchers at U Calgary, including Co-PI Dr. Lianne Tomfohr-Madsen.
Families First is a universally implemented home-visiting program in Manitoba designed to prevent child maltreatment and its negative sequalae. This project has two primary objects. First, we will evaluate the impacts of the Families First program on reducing health inequalities for children at-risk for child maltreatment and its associated economic impact. Second, we aim to determine moderators of program efficacy to identify for whom the program is most effective and for whom unmet needs remain. The knowledge generated from this project will be tailored to directly inform clinical practice and future child health investments in Manitoba.
BRIDGE is a program designed to support the mental health and parenting needs of mothers with depression who are parenting a 3 to 4-year-old child. This program brings together Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Groups with therapeutic techniques to support positive parent-child interactions. Mothers will receive a 20-week therapeutic program, coupled with childcare and food provision, to increase accessibility. Mothers and their children will also be asked to participate in laboratory assessment visits before and after the program to help us understand how changes in maternal mental health, parenting, and neurobiological markers of stress-regulation contribute to child development. This program is funded by a Research Manitoba Operating Grant.
Our work with the Creating Connections/Creando Conexiones project builds on a body of research led by the late Dr. Helen Neville, designed to support children’s cognitive development in families through play, positive limit setting, and family routines. This program was implemented with English and Spanish speaking families from 2014 to 2017 at the University of Oregon. Parents and children participated in assessments of family well-being, cognitive skills, and neurobiological function, in addition to contributing their child’s early educational records. Current principal investigator Dr. Eric Pakulak is located at Stockholm University. Dr. Giuliano is a co-investigator on program evaluation.
We take a multimodal approach to developmental science that includes a variety of experimental approaches based on the research questions of interest. Approaches include observational assessments of parent-child interactions, questionnaires, and behaviour-centric games concurrent with measures of brain activity (electroencephalography, EEG), cardiac physiology (electrocardiography, ECG; impedance cardiography, IC) and stress hormones (salivary and hair samples).
In our BUDS line of research, we are learning how to better support individuals’ abilities to prepare for and cope with stress. This includes the development of challenging laboratory-based tasks that include measures of performance under stress, and the protective role of social support from close family members or friends. This work is funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Recently, we have shown that individual differences in brain activity (EEG) during selective attention covaries with cardiac physiology (ECG; IC) in both children and adults. We are building on this research to investigate the importance of cardiac physiology to neurocognitive function for families experiencing chronic stress.
Across studies, a major goal of our research is to understand experiences linked to variability in neurocognitive performance, stress-system function, and well-being outcomes across health, educational, and behavioural metrics. This research includes the pathways through which chronic stressors may alter developmental pathways, the protective role of family influences, and the extent to which these processes may be amenable to change at different ages through targeted interventions.