Principal Investigator

Rob Whitley

Rob Whitley is the Principal Investigator of the Social Psychiatry Research and Interest Group (SPRING) at the Douglas Institute Research Center. He is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. His two main research (and action) interests are recovery and stigma. His research shows the importance of factors such as gainful employment, secure housing, religion/ spirituality and rewarding social connections in enhancing recovery from severe mental illness. It also shows the devastating impact of stigma. He takes a social justice and human rights approach to his activities, using his research results to push for change to promote recovery and diminish stigma. He has published over 100 papers in the field of social psychiatry, and his work has been funded by CIHR, FRSQ, NIDRR, and the MRC (U.K). He is currently the recipient of a CIHR New Investigator Award and an FRSQ Junior 1 Research Scholar Award. Current projects include (i) a study examining recovery in diverse ethno-cultural groups in Montreal; (ii) a longitudinal analysis of the tone and content of media coverage of mental illness in Canada; (iii) a participatory video study involving the creation, distribution and evaluation of anti-stigma and pro-recovery videos by people with mental illness.


While the focus of his activities is in Quebec and Canada, he is proud to be a member of a worldwide community of scholars devoted to promoting recovery and reducing stigma. As such, he maintains strong collaborations with numerous institutions, including Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center, Howard University, the University of Addis Ababa, the University of the West Indies, the Institute of Psychiatry (King’s College London) and the University of Melbourne. Whitley is always available to discuss recovery and stigma with interested parties, and hopes one day to live in a world where people with mental illness can fulfill their potential and enjoy their full rights as citizens free of fear and stigma.

PhD Students

William Affleck

William Affleck is a PhD candidate in the Dept. of Psychiatry at McGill. His doctoral research examines trauma among Tamil men in Sri Lanka, and recently arrived Sri Lankan immigrants to Canada. His interests include trauma disorders, men’s mental health, mental health systems, and psychiatric research ethics. He has received a CIHR Banting and Best doctoral award, and a doctoral award from the Fonds de Recherche Santé du Québec. His work has been published in journals such as Social Science and Medicine and the American Journal of Men’s Health.

Marie Eve Boucher

Marie Eve Boucher is a doctoral student in the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University. She holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in anthropology, both from Concordia University. Her doctoral thesis is examining barriers and facilitators towards recovery among diverse ethno-cultural groups. She is a skilled qualitative researcher, with field experience working in West Africa, as well as in the private sector.

Sara Houshmand

Sara Houshmand is a doctoral student in Counselling Psychology at McGill University, where she also received a Master's degree. Her doctoral dissertation is examining coping responses to subtle, everyday forms of racism. Sara's research interests include multicultural counselling and psychology. She was awarded a SSHRC doctoral scholarship.

Helen Costin

Helen is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. After earning her Masters degree in counselling psychology at Columbia University, she worked for 5 years at a local community organization where she provided supportive counselling to people diagnosed with mental illness. Helen's research interests centre on competence, caring and compassion in mental health practice and education. 

Masters Students

Aldric Reid

Aldric Reid is a Masters student of Psychiatry at McGill University, having graduated with a BA in psychology from Concordia University. His Masters thesis is based on a qualitative study of recovery among Caribbean immigrants in Montreal. He is also a certified personal trainer and a youth football coach. He hopes to continue to work with young people to improve their lives.

Research Assistants

Mylène Abdel Ghaly

Mylène Abdel Ghaly is a social worker, having recently graduated with a Masters’ degree from Laval University. She also holds a degree in psychoanalysis from the University of Paris VIII. Her Master’s thesis was based on qualitative research conducted in First Nation communities investigating issues of youth protection. She is currently examining how the recovery paradigm is influencing the delivery of mental health services in francophone jurisdictions.

Michael Creed

Michael Creed is a medical student from University College Cork, Ireland, currently working as a research assistant on various projects with the team for one year. He is working towards a career as a psychiatrist, and his main research interests include men’s mental health, patient-centred care and the roles of art and music in psychiatric practice. He is an active member of the Critical Voices Network of Ireland. Not one to have a singular focus in life, he is also a brewer and a musician, with a passion for both performance and listening.

Noushon Farmanara

Noushon Farmanara is a McGill University graduate with a BA in Sociology. She was recently involved in the organization of ‘Students in Mind’, a mental health conference held at McGill on October 2014. Her interests include health services research, particularly related to access to mental health services in Canada, and she hopes to pursue these interests through a Masters in Public Health. Noushon is currently working on the news media project. 

Chinh Huynh

Chinh Huynh is a McGill University graduate with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology. She is currently working as the Project Manager on a study examining the representation of mental illness in Canadian news media, funded by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. In her spare time, she also volunteers at Batshaw Youth and Family Centres as a tutor and big sister. 

Robby Reis

Robby Reis is a filmmaker based in Montreal, currently working as the lead videographer on the participatory video project. He obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production at Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. He is co-founder of Natali Film, a Montreal based Production Company. His films include Feeding the Raging Heart, Hellbound for Baja, Suha and he is currently producing his first feature length documentary entitled Drive Home Safe. His recent projects have screened at the MoMA, the Lincoln Center for the Arts, Les Rendez-vous du Cinema Québecois and the Philadelphia Independent film fest.

Stephanie Young

Stephanie Young is a filmmaker, artist, and activist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University where she studied film production and fine art. Her two most recent films, Scarlines (2013) and Masculins (2014) have screened at film festivals across the country. In 2014, she received a Canadian Progress Women of Excellence Award in Arts and Culture for her film work. In addition to filmmaking and freelance videography, Stephanie also works part time at Laing House as a Peer Support Worker. She is the videographer at the Halifax site for the participatory video project.