A Passion to Help Others
For some, working in the field of mental health is a slow progression. For London native and Brescia alumna Krystle Shore, ’13, it was a calling.
Encouraged to apply to study at Brescia by her mother, who was a Preliminary Year graduate, Krystle began her studies as a part-time student, with an open major. However, after being embraced by Brescia’s supportive, engaging and positive all-women’s environment she enrolled full-time.
It was during Dr. John Mitchell’s “Introduction to Psychology” class that Krystle’s passion for mental health research was ignited. Krystle recalls how Dr. Mitchell’s strong teaching style and enthusiasm for Psychology motivated her to pursue a career in academia and explore topics related to mental health and wellness. After this, she declared her major graduating in 2013, with a BA Honors Specialization in Psychology and a Minor in Criminology. Her fourth year thesis, supervised by Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Kleinknecht, investigated mental health stigma reduction techniques.
Determined to make a difference both off- and on- campus, Krystle began working for the John Howard Society in her second year. While there, she conducted afterschool programming for young girls living in low-income neighborhoods. Through the experience she saw how pervasive and detrimental untreated mental health issues could be. “Mental health issues can affect all ages and, if left untreated, can greatly impact the trajectory of one’s life,” she explains. She also volunteered for the Society as a Bail Worker, which allowed her to see first-hand the overrepresentation of mental illness within the Criminal Justice System.
In addition to her positive work within the community, Krystle was also incredibly active on campus as a student leader. In her fourth year she was invited by Student Life Manager, Courtney McDonald to join Brescia’s Mental Health Project Team, which explored best practices for addressing mental health and wellness in Canadian universities, within the context of national mental health trends. Her work prepared the Project Team for a campus-wide consultation process, which resulted in recommendations for enhancing student mental health and wellness support and shaped Brescia’s current strategy. Krystle’s studies and work experience taught her that mental health initiatives must address not only individual issues, but also systemic issues, such as policy change.
In 2015 Krystle received her Master of Arts in Criminology from Wilfred Laurier University’s Brantford campus, a program recommended to her by Brescia Associate Professor of Sociology, Dr. Steven Kleinknecht. Krystle’s thesis, “Exploring interactions between police and people with mental illness” examined the outcome of police interactions with those suffering from mental health issues. One of the conclusions from the study was the prevalence of a “silo effect”, which describes the lack of communication and cohesion between public sectors like police and health care. She goes on to explain, “Conflicting policies among services can put undue hardship on justice and health systems in Canada, but more importantly prevents those with mental health issues who come into contact with the justice system from obtaining treatment.”
Krystle chose to continue her studies and began her Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology at the University of Waterloo in 2015. Her studies were temporary put on hold in January 2016, when she gave birth to her son Isaiah – who she says is her greatest accomplishment. She is currently balancing life as a mother and student, and working toward completing her doctoral dissertation where she hopes to investigate the barriers faced by police when connecting people experiencing mental crises to treatment.
Looking forward, Krystle hopes to further investigate and reduce the barriers between Canada’s mental health and criminal justice systems. In addition to making positive changes at a policy level, she describes her ultimate dream as eventually returning to Brescia as a professor, and helping the next generation of women leaders to discover and embrace their unique passions.