Welcome to the Social Development Research Team
Under the direction of Dr. Kelly Schwartz, our team consists of graduate student researchers who are interested in different aspects of social development across the lifespan. We conduct research that aims to improve the well-being of individuals through the identification and removal of barriers, as well as the identification of strengths and protective factors. For more information on our studies, check out our Research page!
SDRT is housed in the School and Applied Child Psychology (SACP) specialization in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. If you are interested in graduate studies in SACP, contact our team!
You can also follow us on Twitter!
CIHR PSP and Mental Health Team Grant
PSP vocations experience heightened operational stressors, including exposure to traumatic events, threats to personal safety, and witnessing current or past acts of accidents, homicides, assaults, and suicide. The statistics regarding the physical, social, and psychological risks for members serving in PSP vocations are not encouraging; prevalence rates for posttraumatic stress injuries (PTSI) and posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD) ranging from 8% to 32. Children and spouses living in PSP-connected families also experience the effects of this operational stress, and too often programs and supports available to PSP members are either unavailable to or noninclusive of family members. Given that many PSP members report seeking informal support from family members, the study is guided by a superordinate query: Does providing intervention and support to youth and spouses in PSP-connected families strengthen PSP mental health and wellbeing? The proposed study will address strategic awareness, prevention, and intervention strategies aimed at building on the strengths and resilience of PSP family members via a clinician-delivered Before Operational Stress (BOS) program. In addition to capacity building for professionals to deliver the BOS program, the study will also develop new methods of measuring developmental and family functioning and identifying physiological psychological stressors via an app-based biometric tool. Strategic attention will be given to between-group differences, most notably exploring how PSP vocation and gender and sex interact with other demographic (e.g., age, family structure, region) variables. The proposed research intends to support mental wellness among PSP by developing new knowledge pertaining to interventions and supports – delivered via face-to-face and app-based methods – for children and spouses related to their understanding the effects PSP occupational stress on the brain, emotional regulation, and relational development.
If you are interested in learning more about this study or learning about the BOS program, please follow us on Twitter @BOSFamilies or e-mail us at email@example.com
Expanding Mental Health Strategies
"From zen mindfulness and calming rooms to “trauma-informed practice,” public schools are ramping up efforts to address growing challenges around student mental health."
Parent Stress and Teaching Kids during COVID-19
"Instead of trying to micromanage every second of your child’s day and create an extremely detailed schedule, Schwartz suggests just remembering to set up enough time for learning, physical activity, and relationship building each day."
Supporting families of first responders
“There are programs available for the first responder or the military member themselves in terms of dealing with post-traumatic stress and things like that, but what we heard from so many families is that there was nothing for them,” Dr. Kelly Schwartz said.
In the news
"Research shows as many as one-third of first responders — paramedics, police officers and firefighters — will experience post-traumatic stress as a result of performing their job duties. And for various reasons, many don't seek out professional help. A team of researchers at the University of Calgary is now working to change that by developing family-based supports"
Rallies against racism and injustice
"Kelly Schwartz, a child psychologist at the University of Calgary, says racism and the use of stereotypes are learned behaviours that can be unlearned. He encourages parents to give their children platforms to explore different sides of other cultures and ethnicities."