#FeatureFriday – Andrew Wrath

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Our organization is excited to announce that we have a new member joining our team. Andrew Wrath is a research coordinator at the University of Saskatchewan. He received his Bachelor of Arts Honors Specialization in Psychology from Western University in 2011. He has experience in the areas of mental health, attachment, mood and anxiety disorders, stigma, and trauma. Andrew will be working as a Research Assistant with the CanFASD team. This is Andrew’s first adventure into the world of FASD research and he is excited for the opportunity.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in London, Ontario. Growing up my favourite things to do were play sports and music. In my late teens, I realized that my home away from home is London, England, and I have been back there several times. With an interest in art history and ancient Greece and Rome, the British Museum is always my first stop. Since moving to the Prairies a little over 4 years ago, I have embraced the almost right-of-passage of playing slo-pitch, which is a great way to appreciate the brief Saskatchewan summers and spend time with friends. I have two little girls at home – both cats – named Rook and River.

What is your background? 

I started my post-secondary education at the University of Guelph with every intent on pursuing veterinary medicine. However, after taking a few psychology courses I found that humans were just as interesting. I transferred to Western University where I completed my degree in Psychology. For my undergraduate thesis I conducted a study looking at how people perceive their mental health symptoms and high-risk behaviours to be caused by one another. 

My first research job was at a specialized psychiatric clinic serving youth experiencing their first episode of a mood and/or anxiety disorder. In this position I had the opportunity to be involved with multiple studies on different subjects such as brain imaging, the association between marijuana use and depression, the stigma surrounding mental health, and the effectiveness of the clinic’s programming on improving patient outcomes. In 2015 I moved to Saskatoon where I now work at the University of Saskatchewan as a research coordinator in the Department of Psychiatry. In this role I manage the research lab of a psychiatrist conducting research in the area of adult attachment and its relationship to mental health, sleep, treatment use, psychosis, cannabis use, trauma, and forgiveness. 

How did you get involved with CanFASD?

I first learned of CanFASD while working with CanFASD Research Lead, Dr. Mansfield Mela, and his research coordinator on a project about offenders with mental disorders. Through this collaboration I was able to learn a lot about FASD in the forensic population and get some insight into what other priority areas and research activities are undertaken by CanFASD. I was fortunate enough that Dr. Mela and CanFASD felt I would be a good fit for the team when the opportunity to join the CanFASD family became available.   

Why are you interested in the field of FASD?

I had never known the extent to which the general population is affected by FASD until the collaboration with Dr. Mela and familiarizing myself with the topic. It was never a topic discussed in school and was only briefly glossed over in a couple of my university courses. Learning about the scarcity of proper diagnosis and services for individuals who have FASD, along with how prevalent it is, was the moment when I really began to understand the impact of FASD on individuals, their families, and our society.

What drew you to CanFASD? 

I am most excited to work with a group of people who are as passionate about this area of mental health. In my first interactions with the group it became obvious why CanFASD is often referred to as “a family”. With CanFASD positioned to influence national and international policy and practice associated with FASD, I hope that the projects I get to work on will lead to better public and government awareness and understanding of individuals with FASD, improvements to services for people with FASD, and a reduction in the stigma associated with FASD. 

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