VIU Nursing Professor Receives Financial Support to Continue Resilience Research

VIU Nursing Professor Receives Financial Support to Continue Resilience Research

VIU Nursing Professor Dr. Shannon Dames has received a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research award that will allow her to focus on development of a psychedelic-assisted mental health therapy program.

January 26, 2021 - 9:45am

Support from BC’s health research funding agency will enable Dr. Shannon Dames to focus on further developing a resilience-focused, psychedelic-assisted mental health therapy program.  

An innovative psychedelic medicine-assisted therapy and resilience training program developed by Vancouver Island University (VIU) Nursing Professor Dr. Shannon Dames and her team is proving to be very effective.  

Dames and team have developed a program that delivers cutting-edge treatment to health-care providers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and treatment-resistant mental health complications such as depression, anxiety, trauma and emotional exhaustion. The first 12-week quality improvement trial, conducted in collaboration with Island Health, has yielded remarkable results. 

“It is healing people who didn’t think they could be healed,” says Dames. “Our evaluation results show significant improvements. Of the 16 participants in the first quality improvement cohort, 11 screened positive for PTSD. All of the PTSD patients screened negative upon program completion, which is unheard of.”  

Additionally, out of 13 participants who also screened positive for generalized anxiety, 62% left screening negative, and 48% had significant clinical improvements. Of the 13 who screened positive for depression, 100% saw significant improvements in their scores. At the one-month follow-up, seven patients were in remission and six patients showed a reduction in symptoms from moderate or severe to mild.  

To continue this promising research, Dames has been awarded $450,000 over five years from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) and the Lotte & John Hecht Memorial Foundation

The funding will allow her to focus 75% of her time over the next five years to continuing with her research and improving the program. 

The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research is BC’s health research funding agency. The long-term Professional-Investigator awards support health professionals who are actively involved in patient care to conduct and apply research relevant to health and/or the health system. 

“I am delighted at the support this initiative is receiving,” says Dames. “This award is a gift that will allow me the time to really focus on expanding access to these innovative and evidence-based therapies, which are sorely needed during this global health crisis.” 

The project is supported by a multidisciplinary team of health and research professionals and agencies, including the BC SUPPORT Unit Vancouver Island Centre, an initiative that supports patient-oriented research in the region; Island Health clinicians; VIU researchers; the University of Victoria (UVic); and the University of British Columbia (UBC). Dames is also collaborating with multiple stakeholders to develop the first publicly offered program in Canada that combines resilience-based communities of practice with ketamine-assisted therapy. Ketamine is currently the only legal medicine that produces psychedelic effects.

“The fact that Shannon received this prestigious award recognizes the exceptionally innovative research that her team is doing and the potential impact for health outcomes in BC,” says Dr. Nicole Vaugeois, Associate Vice-President of Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity at VIU.

 The research team is currently onboarding the second cohort of participants in the Roots To Thrive – Ketamine Assisted Therapy (RTT-KAT) treatment program. Long-term goals include creating an accredited psychedelic-assisted therapy training certificate program, which will be added to the VIU curriculum.



Annette Lucas, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

C: 250.618.7296| E: | T: @VIUNews

Tags: Nursing | Research | Teaching and Learning

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