Journalism professor looks to investigate mental health as senior faculty advisor to the president

Kathryn Gretsinger, senior instructor in UBC School of Journalism, Writing, and Media, has been named senior faculty advisor to President Santa Ono.

In her new role, she will advise him on how to tackle mental health challenges that exist on post-secondary campuses and help develop new initiatives around the issue.

Gretsinger has had a long-term interest in mental health. As a professional in the field of journalism, she’s been writing stories on mental health for a large duration of her career, with a focus on social justice reporting.

The appointment of her new role allows her to participate in a project looking at mental health services on college and university campuses in Canada and the United States.

She explained that as an educator, it is something that deeply matters to her.

“It’s really important to me that we find out what’s happening for students,” she said.

Investigating mental health

Gretsinger is also using her expertise in journalism to work on a collaborative investigative journalism project, alongside other academics and journalists in the United States and Canada.

“We’re all aware that something serious is going on, but this huge project collaboration allows us to get this clear view of what services are available and what we might need to be considering going forward,” she said.

She hopes this project will give her a good overview to find out what is happening with mental health services, how the money is distributed and what is not being made available for students. She is using the funding from her new role at the President’s office to hire students to help research, gather facts and tell their stories.

“I’m hearing from business students, medical students and journalism students. There are many people across disciplines who are concerned and interested in finding out what’s happening and willing to participate,” she said.

An important aspect of the project is the collaboration of working with students.

“We’re working with students to bring in their knowledge, tell really meaningful stories and share them. All the research that we do is going to turn into important journalism shared across Canada and the United States,” said Gretsinger.