Mental Illness and Substance Use: Challenging Old and Persistent Paradigms – 2017


Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by the UBC School of Nursing.

People with mental illness and substance use challenges are among the most stigmatized population in the world. The field of neuroscience is making strides to redress this by changing the etiological paradigm from a pejorative behavior model to one that is brain based. Evidence from neuroscience serves as a powerful agent for challenging problematic beliefs and attitudes held by healthcare providers and society. Translating this evidence to current and future healthcare providers, to patients and the public, will contribute to breaking down barriers that prevent persons experiencing these challenges from seeking and utilizing treatment.

Bio: Deborah Finnell has specialized in mental health and addictions for most her nursing career. From her grounding as a registered nurse working in inpatient psychiatry, she expanded her role to that of a clinical nurse specialist and then a nurse practitioner. She brings her passion for the neurobiological bases of mental illness and substance use to her clinical practice, teaching, research, and policy/advocacy work. With funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Dr. Finnell led the integration of substance-use related content including screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) into the nursing curricula at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She advocates for expanded access to mental illness and substance use treatment, such as calling for advanced practice nurses to prescribe buprenorphine. During her tenure with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Hospital Administration, she conducted funded research focusing on improving the health of Veterans with mental and substance use disorders. Her professional leadership roles range from past chair of the New York State Peer Assistance Committee to past president of the International Nurses Society on Addictions. She served as chair of the Addictions Nursing Certification Board and was a member of the Committee on Nursing Standards for the American Nurses Association. She currently serves on the board of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA) and is associate editor of that organization’s professional journal, Substance Abuse.


Select Books and Articles Available at UBC Library

Carey, M. G., Al-Zaiti, S. S., Dean, G. E., Sessanna, L., & Finnell, D. S. (2011). Sleep problems, depression, substance use, social bonding, and quality of life in professional firefighters. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 53(8), 928-933. [Link]

Crickman, R., & Finnell, D. (2016;2015;). Systematic review of control measures to reduce hazardous drug exposure for health care workers. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 31(2), 183-190. [Link]

Sanchez, M., & Finnell, D. (2017). Alcohol screening and brief intervention for persons living with HIV. Janac-Journal of the Association of Nurses in Aids Care, 28(2), 266-278. [Link]

Leave a Reply