2023 Research Impact Canada Engaged Scholarship Award Winner (PhD category): Indira Riadi

Indira Riadi was awarded the 2023 Research Impact Canada Engaged Scholarship Award for her project, Developing Inclusive Digital Mental Health Services/Interventions Through Understanding the Mental Health Priorities of Community-Dwelling Older Adults.

About project

This project aims investigate factors affecting the mental wellbeing of community-dwelling older adults and develop digital-based services to promote equitable access to services for seniors. The entirety of the research project was guided by community-dwelling older adults who reside in the West End of Downtown Vancouver. The community partner of this project is a large not-for-profit senior’s centre in Vancouver, the West End Seniors’ Network (WESN), who has aided with the recruitment and dissemination of findings from this project. Participants were asked to participate in semi-structured interviews to understand the beliefs, experiences, attitudes, and underlying feelings about mental health, and what services they need to access to alleviate mental health burdens. When talking about mental health and digital literacy, two difficult topics for older adults, trust and rapport between researcher and participant is essential. I have lived in the West End for the past three years and have built relationships and significant trust with members of my community. The key element in this project is the involvement of older adults from the community throughout all phases of the project because, ultimately, they are the experts of their own lives and abilities.

This project is nearing its completion, and findings of the early stages of the project has been published or has been submitted for publication. Firstly, a systematic review on technology-based interventions was conducted. The results determined that (1) end-users and the population of interest should be at the center of digital mental health interventions creation and design; (2) digital mental health interventions need to be malleable and able to adapt to different life circumstances, education level, and physical and psychological abilities of the population; and (3) creation of digital mental health interventions must be accompanied by (human) support available for all users (Riadi et al., 2022). Secondly, this project generated four overarching themes that contribute to the mental wellbeing of community-dwelling older adults: 1) having a sense of stability over personal circumstances, 2) being able to do, 3) positively impacting others, and 4) feeling a sense of belonging (Riadi et al., in press). These results will aid with the development of interventions and services that put the mental health needs of older adults at the center of creation and design.

These preliminary findings have been shared beyond academia to the community. WESN continues to aid with knowledge mobilisation strategies, including offering space in the newsletter for results that arise research project, hosting seminars regarding digital literacy and mental health at WESN and at South Vancouver Seniors’ Network, and collaborating with the Programs Manager at Burnaby Neighbourhood House to create a curriculum-based digital literacy service for the diverse population of older adults in Vancouver.

Please feel free to read the academic journal articles that have been published as a part of this project:

  1. Riadi, I., Kervin, L., Dhillon, S., Teo, K., Churchill, R., Card, K. G., … & Cosco, T. D. (2022). Digital interventions for depression and anxiety in older adults: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. The Lancet Healthy Longevity, 3(8), e558-e571.
  2. Riadi, I, Kervin, L., Dhillon, S., Hopper, S., Aguda, V., Cosco, T. D. (in press) Factors contributing to the mental wellbeing of community-dwelling older adults: A qualitative study from the Vancouver West End. BMC Geriatrics.

Additionally, please view the WESN monthly newsletter to read more about how the findings were disseminated:

  1. https://wesn.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/09/October_NL_web.pdf (P. 11)
  2. https://wesn.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/10/WESN_newsNOV22_web.pdf (P.11)

About award recipient

Indira is a 4th year PhD Candidate and Sessional Lecturer in the department of Gerontology at Simon Fraser University. She completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Toronto specializing in Neuroscience.

Indira’s doctoral project comprises of two objectives: 1) to understand social factors that impact the mental health of community-dwelling older adults in the Vancouver West End, and 2) to create a community-based program to better the mental health of seniors by improving the digital literacy of the population. With the help of her community partner, the West End Seniors’ Network, she aims to collaborate with their members (older adults over the age of 65) and the volunteer technology coaches in the design and creation of the digital literacy program. Having digital literacy is especially important in the post-COVID-19 world and these skills will allow individuals to access online (mental health) services, build social connections, and overall increase their independence.

Indira’s interest in community-based work started when she became a volunteer at West End Seniors’ Network in the peak of COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, she has received support and funding from Mental Health Research Canada, Mitacs, and SFU’s Community-Engaged Research Initiative (CERi). Outside of research, Indira mainly spends her free time gardening, cooking, rock climbing, skiing, and staying at home with her husband and three cats.