When she started her career as a family therapist in Ontario’s mental health system, Mary Bartram noticed that most of the families she worked with had lower incomes, and sometimes waited over a year for service. Years later she had an opportunity to be a leader in the development of the 2012 Mental Health Strategy for Canada. From there, she joined the PhD program in the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA).

“My experiences really left me with burning questions about how to strengthen public policy in this area,” says Bartram, who received her PhD in Public Administration at the June convocation ceremony. “When I started (my PhD) in 2013, this issue was really on the back burner, but over the past two years it has really taken off as a hot topic.”

Bartram recently won the 2018 Senate Medal for outstanding academic achievement.

“It was great to hear that I had been awarded the Senate Medal, both as recognition of all of the hard work I have put in over the past few years but also because mental health is such an important priority,” she adds. “What was most special for me was having my kids come to convocation, to see their mom get a medal for her PhD.”

Bartram’s research has focused on how access to psychotherapy is dependent on income. In addition to studying that connection, she reviewed House of Commons debates dating back to the 1950s to trace how mental health services were planned within the federal/provincial system. She also interviewed experts on health care in the U.K. and Australia, where psychotherapy coverage is universal.

“I would like to think that my research is helping to shape the federal government’s investment of $5B over 10 years in a targeted mental health transfer to provincial and territorial governments,” says Bartram, who is working as a researcher and consultant.