Mental Health and Addictions Research Centre

The Health PEI Mental Health and Addictions Research Centre aims to advance knowledge and understanding of mental health and addictions to support top-tier, evidence-based Mental Health and Addictions Services.

Researchers work closely with clinical staff to ensure research is translated efficiently and accurately to inform clinical practice. This focus on rapid application of research supports progressive, best-practice care for patients and families.

What is the focus of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Centre?


The Mental Health and Addictions Research Centre is dedicated to creating and disseminating knowledge that will improve care for individuals seeking help for mental health and substance use. 

Collaborating with a network of researchers, clinicians, and persons with lived experiences, the centre strives to advance science and practice, while prioritizing patients’ experiences and needs.

Current projects:

  • E-Mental Health for parents and caregivers with anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic: Improving access and matching services to need.
  • Cannabis-Related Psychiatric ED Presentations: Demographic Trends and Predictive Models
  • Sex Differences and Menstrual Phase Fluctuations in Cannabis-Related Psychiatric Presentations
  • Comparing Models of Care in the Management of Prescription Opioid Misuse: Sexual Dysfunction and Treatment Compliance in Men and Women Receiving Methadone versus Buprenorphine
  • Cannabis Outcomes in Youth with Lived Mental Health and Substance Use Experiences    
  • Improving Services for Individuals with Opioid Use Disorder in PEI: A Mixed Method Study 


The Mental Health and Addictions Research Centre recognizes the importance of monitoring outcomes for all patient populations and across all service areas. Evaluating services is crucial for providing better care. 

Our evaluation framework emphasizes mixed methods, focusing on key indicators, while underscoring qualitative feedback from patients, families, and front line staff.  

Recent and ongoing evaluation:

  • Development and Evaluation of a new Mental Health and Addictions Mobile Crisis Program
  • Provincial Opioid Replacement Therapy Program Review and Recommendations
  • Child and Youth Mental Health Screening: Clinical Applications and Program Implications
  • Evaluating the Efficacy of DBT Skills Groups across Services and Populations
  • Monitoring and Evaluating Covid-19 Initiatives in Mental Health and Addictions


The centre will build capacity for research, knowledge exchange, multidisciplinary growth, and educational opportunities, internally and with affiliated academic institutions.

The research centre partners with the Mental Health and Addictions Clinical Education Department to support evidence-based training for staff.  

Establishing excellence in education means promoting continuing education for current staff and investing in the professional development of trainees. 

The Mental Health and Addictions Research Centre is seeking involvement of exceptional students in programs relevant to Mental Health and Addictions. Students will work closely with Dr. Hudson to develop a new project or contribute to an ongoing project. For information on student opportunities, please contact: 

Who are the team members?


Dr. Amanda Hudson is the Director of the Health PEI Mental Health and Addictions Research Centre and is an adjunct professor at UPEI, Department of Health Management. Her research focuses on how biopsychosocial factors contribute to the etiology and treatment of substance use disorders. With special interests in trauma, development, and substance use, she has published widely in this area and has taught several university courses, as well as sessions for healthcare providers, on these topics. Dr. Hudson is a member of the National Needs-based Planning Committee with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the advisory committee of the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM - Quebec-Atlantic node), and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) National Treatment Indicators working group. Dr. Hudson has received awards and funding from several agencies, including the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (NSHRF), Movember Canada, and the Canadian Psychological Association. She holds a B.Sc. with honours in biology (UPEI), M.Sc. and doctoral degrees in psychology (Dalhousie University), and has completed postdoctoral fellowships with the Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (Dalhousie University). 

Provincial Research Committee

Dr. Heather E. Keizer is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Psychiatry having completed her M.D. at Dalhousie University where she is now cross-appointed in the Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine as an Assistant Professor. As Director of Psychiatry in Huron Perth County in Ontario, she established a Royal College Accredited Core Psychiatry program at Stratford General Hospital for the University of Western Ontario, and, in 2016, she established a Community Psychiatry Elective Program on PEI, which, to date, has hosted Psychiatry Residents from Dalhousie University, Memorial University, and University of Ottawa. Trained in Executive Leadership with the Schulich School of Business at York University, and in the Refugee Trauma Mastery Program at Harvard University, she has an ongoing interest in quality assurance, outcome measurement for inpatient and outpatient care and organizational change and innovation. She has received the National Quality Assurance Writing Prize, and, most recently has been nominated for the P1 Medical Leadership Award and granted the PI Community Service Award.

Dr. Jacqueline Goodwin, C.Psych., is a board certified clinical psychologist and the founding Team Lead of the INSIGHT Youth Mental Health Day Treatment Program. With the support of undergraduate and graduate research awards from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS), and Canadian Federation of University Women, among others, her research has explored adolescents’ experiences and perceptions of family violence and family relationship dynamics, interactions between maternal depression and children’s family relationships, paediatric eating disorders, and parent-child conversations about past emotional experiences. She completed her residency at the IWK Health Centre, a paediatric hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Clinical positions have included practice in subspecialty mental health clinics within the IWK health system as well as Prince Edward Island’s English language school branch, out-patient community mental health services, adolescent in-patient psychiatry and pediatrics units of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and most recently, the INSIGHT Youth Day Treatment Program. She has consulted to multiple provincial Mental Health and Addictions’ quality and policy/program committees, the Health PEI Psychology Discipline group, the Premier’s Community Health Engagement Committee, and the Psychological Association of PEI (PAPEI). She led the development of PAPEI’s Position Statement on the Legalization of Cannabis. 

Nicole Peters-Vuozzo is a registered nurse with more than 20 years experience in the mental health and addiction field. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from UPEI, and a Master of Nursing degree from Dalhousie University. Nicole was involved with the Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program in PEI since its beginning in 2004, and has held the position of team lead for the Opioid Replacement Therapy Program at the Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility since 2009. She has recently been working on opioid treatment initiatives aimed at improving services for individuals with opioid use disorder in PEI. Nicole has an interest in mental health and addiction related research, particularly qualitative methods and participatory research involving lived experiences of mental health and addictions.

Verna Ryan is the Executive Director of Mental Health and Addictions, Health PEI. She received her Masters in Social Work from McGill University and a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from St. Thomas University. She furthered her training with a certificate in Management Development from the University of Prince Edward Island and a diploma in Human Resources from Queens University. Throughout her career with the Prince Edward Island Government, Verna has worked in the fields of child protection and corrections, where she managed adult and youth facilities for the province. Her interest in corrections led her to various roles with the federal government with Corrections Canada at the Addictions Research Centre in Montague, PE, and more recently with Veterans Affairs Canada where she worked as a national mental health consultant. 


Collaborating partners

The Mental Health and Addictions Research Centre works closely with a number of partner organizations and groups, including, but not limited to:


Dr. Amanda Hudson, Director
Mental Health and Addictions Research Centre


Published date: 
November 6, 2020
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