The Academic Mental Illness Project (AMIP) was born in 2020, when a group of professors at the University of Saskatchewan came together over a shared interest in how instructor mental health influences teaching and learning in post-secondary institutions. For some, this topic was personal. Several team members live with mental illness and regularly disclose their conditions in the classroom. Others were drawn to the topic based on professional experiences and research interests.

Our mission is to develop an understanding of how mental health influences the academic experiences of post-secondary instructors, including their teaching activities, institutional interactions, and career trajectories, and how disclosures of mental illness in the classroom influences student perceptions, behaviours, and outcomes. To do this, we engage in various forms of empirical research, including survey research, collaborative auto-ethnography, and narrative analysis.

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

Our Team

The research group includes instructors from numerous disciplines and represents a diversity of ages, genders, sexual-orientations, and mental illness diagnoses. Below, we invite you to meet members of the AMIP team.

Dr. Jenn Bergen (they/them; Department of Curriculum Studies)

Dr. Jenn Bergen (they/them) is a non-binary early-career scholar in curriculum studies. They are a teacher educator, instructional designer, and public engagement project facilitator, and they research the intersections of anti-racism, social justice, mental health, and civic education in post-secondary pedagogical practices. Jenn also currently serves as the Treasurer and a research advisory member for TransSask, a provincial advocacy organization for trans, non-binary, and gender diverse people in Saskatchewan.

Carolina de Barros (they/them; Department of Psychology)

Carolina is a Master’s student who researches positive bisexual identity and its associations to resilience and positive outcomes. Their other research interests include resiliency in bisexual people, transgender people, and queer youth; 2SLGBTQ+ health; and media representations of bisexuality. In their free time, they enjoy crafting, aerial arts & dancing, and cuddling with their three cats.

Shannon Forrester (she/her; College of Kinesiology)

Shannon holds a teaching focused faculty position and instructs several undergraduate courses in the College of Kinesiology.  Her previously research focused on the theme of youth health and development but has more recently shifted to healthy aging and management of chronic conditions as well as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning So(TL).  She is particularly interested in the intersection of physical activity and So(TL).  In her spare time, Shannon is kept hopping with her active family which includes her husband, two teenage boys, and a rambunctious black goldendoodle.

Dr. Jan Gelech (she/her; Department of Psychology)

Jan is a passionate psychology instructor who researches transformative life events, disability experiences, and cultural conceptualizations of sexuality and family. She is kept busy by two beautiful children and her canine and equine ‘fur babies’.

            Jan.Gelech@usask.

Dr. Simonne Horwitz (she/her; Department of History)

Simonne came to Saskatchewan from Johannesburg, South Africa, via the University of Oxford in the UK.  She teachers African History and History of Medicine and researchers issues of medicine and gender in South Africa.  Her passion is teaching, pedagogy and strives to be role model for Queer students and those who are neurodiverse.

Dr. Drew Murray

Coming soon!

Dr. Jim Reichert (he/him; Department of Psychology)

Jim is a lecturer and researcher in the field of cognitive neuropsychology. His research background is in the study of spatial memory in younger adults and aging populations. He enjoys teaching and has taught many different psychology courses, ranging from neuroscience to research design and advanced statistics.

Heather Ross (she/her; Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning)

Heather M. Ross is an Educational Development Specialist with the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning at USask. Her areas of expertise are around open educational practices and all aspects of course design. Outside of her work at the university she is a mom, wife, and the host of the Better Me Podcast, which she launched in early 2020 to talk about mental health and how individuals deal with challenges in life.

Dr. Vicki Squires (she/her; Department of Educational Administration)

Vicki’s research focuses on health promotion on campuses and leadership in post-secondary educational systems. She is deeply invested in student wellbeing and the implementation of policies, programs and practices that support wellbeing. As a mother, daughter, partner, associate professor, and Associate Dean, Vicki understands the challenges with juggling personal and professional commitments.