Research Advisory Panel

The Research Advisory Panel (RAP) was originally convened in 2020 to enable stakeholders - older adults in the community - to inform and shape the Precision Mental Health project and various sub-projects and to ensure that research findings will be meaningful and significant to end users in the community. The panel includes a diverse cross-section of community-dwelling older adults, including  members from LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities, and members from Indigenous groups.

RAP has proven to be an invaluable resource in sense-checking ongoing PMH projects, informing future research directions, providing feedback and innovative ideas for the PMH website and guiding our Knowledge Translation strategy. Through ongoing dialogue with the Research Advisory Panel, PMH generates pilot insights that inform prospective work and contextualize ongoing work from the perspectives of older adults. 

RAP will continue to provide advice and guidance during the course of the stakeholder-informed Precision Mental Health (PMH) project.

Our Mission

Our mission is to apply a stakeholder-informed, evidence-based, data-driven, and tech-enabled approach to identifying and supporting the mental health of individuals across the course of life in Canada and globally. We seek to identify how innovative technological approaches can be leveraged to support wellbeing, social connectedness, and improve mental health.


Dr. Theodore Cosco

Mary Brooks

I am a retired educator who taught for many years in northern communities, including the Yukon, and completed my career teaching social justice education and ethics to beginning teachers at the University of Alberta and at UBC. I am enjoying being part of the Research Advisory Panel because it allows me to have input into the vital research Teddy and his team are conducting, hopefully helping to ensure that the findings will be significant to older adults and others who will be impacted by them. I was particularly pleased to be able to give feedback and suggestions for the website, which is very informative and still evolving! In addition to my participation in RAP, I am a Senior Peer Support volunteer, sing in several choirs, take classes at SFU/UBC, and love to read and go for walks beside the ocean.

Dr. Theodore Cosco

Tim Hicks

My career in the computer industry gradually transformed into business communications, featuring electronic communications and a lot of translating tech jargon into understandable terms. Retirement finds me as the volunteer webmaster at Century House, a seniors centre in New Westminster. I am also president of the centre’s Seniors Embracing Technology group, exploring how to help seniors get more comfortable with technology through workshops and 1-1 support.

This panel seems like a great way to share what I’ve learned in that process. I’ve previously volunteered with the Alzheimer Society of BC and CARP, the seniors advocacy organization.  I read a lot of science fiction, collect dad jokes and all forms of wordplay, spend too much time on social media, plan vacations in ridiculous detail, and look forward to slow-pitch season every spring.

Dr. Theodore Cosco

Sue Higginbotham

Advocating for improved health care for older adults has been my crusade throughout my career as a Social Worker. Since retirement, I have studied Bowen Family Systems theory through Georgetown University, taken courses in Complex Trauma at the Justice Institute of BC and most recently, learned about the practice of mindfulness and meditation.  I have counselled older adults for the past 7 years.

I very much enjoy being a member of RAP as any contribution I can make to improve the mental health of older adults is rewarding. I find the research being done exciting and it provides for major improvements in mental health of older adults. 

I live part time on Spring Island and in Langley. I love to garden and have keen interest in conservation and native plants. I love to ski, snowshoe, hike and kayak as well as music and the arts. I thoroughly enjoy time with family and friends.

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Dr. Theodore Cosco

Pat Hogan

I have spent the past 40 years or so organizing events, retreats and working within the feminist/lesbian community with the help of many others:  opened a transition house in Vernon, organized a women's network in the North Okanagan, started Sounds & Furies, a women's music and events production organization, and more recently BOLDFest, an organization for older lesbians.

As a RAP member, I’m particularly interested in older adults’ relationship to technology. I’m happy to help PMH researchers understand the level of technological skills of some older adults to make sure their information is available to all.

My daughter and family live in Australia, my son and family in Nelson BC. I still keep busy, but mostly online these days.

Dr. Theodore Cosco

Phyllis Lavelle

I am completing my ninetieth year. A life-long participant in and provider of education in schools, post-secondary and community settings, my areas of interest frequently focused on interpersonal communication. I worked as a psychotherapist, classroom teacher, university lecturer, home visitor as a family dynamics coach, speaker on cruises, and English coach in Spain with adult language schools and in a primary school.

Since retirement, I have volunteered with arts organizations, musical presenters, and seniors' centres. It was at such a club that I encountered RAP, which has proven to be a highlight of my later years. Interacting with varied experienced innovators to enrich senior mental health is a privilege, and I see daily such a need.

I have travelled extensively, and further enlarged my life by authoring several books, currently polishing one concerning integration of personal aspects, which as a developmental psychologist I consider to be the final life stage task. Currently I live in a volitional senior community where I am learning to enjoy aging.

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Dr. Theodore Cosco

Claire Robson

I am an educator, writer, researcher and LGBTQ activist. I believe that sharing our lived experience is key to our understanding of the world. I enjoy helping people share these stories in creative community collaborations. My research harnesses artmaking to the broad goals of participatory action research - to better understand those voices that have not always been heard, and in doing so, to generate positive social change. My awards include Xtra West Writer of the Year, the Joseph Katz Memorial Scholarship (for contributions to social justice), and the Lynch History Prize (for contributions to better understanding of gender and sexual minorities). I have published widely in both academic and literary genres. When I’m not chained to my desk, you’ll find me searching for my golf ball in the mud at Vancouver’s Musqueam golf course.

Dr. Theodore Cosco

Kanwarjit (Kan) Sandhu

I came to Canada in 1973 from the UK, and was born and educated in India. I worked for CIBC for 36 years in various capacities and worked for another 5 years for BC Lottery Corporation. I have been very actively involved in community affairs, as such I was BC Chapter President for NACOI  (National Association of Canadian of India origin); president of Indo Canadian Business Association; past president of RMCS (Richmond Multicultural Community Services); member of Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee to city of Richmond; and member and 2nd vice president of 411 Seniors.

I feel very proud to be part of RAP and glad to be part of research, contributing and sharing my life experience for the benefit of others.

Dr. Theodore Cosco

Olga Sorenson

I’m from the West Kootenays, where I dabble in a bit of needle craft, wood working, skiing, skating, camping, hiking, rock climbing, gardening, short story and poetry writing, and a bit of drawing in my early days.

In my area of the province, when I was as a youngster, the economy was booming. Highways were being built - bridges, dams, hospital, trade schools, and a college/art school - to accommodate the influx of young families coming to the area.

I really didn’t know people older than my parents, either related to my family or in the community. I did notice the ‘oldies’ being pushed out of the center of towns, to retirement and care homes on the edges, with no coffee shop in sight, no newsstands, no library, no green grocers, sometimes not even proper sidewalks. or even a bench or two. No families or authorities seemed to notice, I guess they were too busy 'getting on' with their lives. This seems to be when my interest in older people started to emerge.

Recently, I have been developing a high interest in ACE (adverse childhood experiences) intergenerational trauma, and the need for considering stored trauma that my be still present in the elderly.

I am also 'dreaming' of being part of a group that would like to practice becoming more stilled in verbal communicating... (with a little humour tossed in now and then!!)

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Dr. Theodore Cosco

Bill Walters

I am semi-retired, more or less, but continue to be highly engaged as a community volunteer including being a Board member of a large long-term care and housing organization, an advisor with The Vancouver Foundation, and a Patient Advisor on several provincial and health authority committees. I am particularly interested in the mental health of our aging population and identifying and reducing barriers for seniors who need to access healthcare services in an environment which assumes everyone is tech-savvy. In my spare time, I am an avid musician and perform with several jazz and concert ensembles.

Dr. Theodore Cosco

Yvonne Wyss

My ancestral name is Sti7hiy Slan7ay. I am from the Xwemel’schuson (Squamish) People of the hereditary chief Khahtsalano of XwayXway (Stanley Park) and Senakqw (Kitsilano). My grandmother was of the Sto:lo People - the people of the river. My mom, Barbara Wyss, was one of the first 5 women reinstated through the Legislation of Bill C-31.

I follow a ceremonial life of the prairies and Sundance the sweetgrass road. My journey here has been on the ceremonial path for over 38 years now. I belong to the Indigenous Birth Alberta group, a 13 moons birth work support program, based on sharing traditional womens teachings in child rearing and womb to tomb women’s teachings from a ceremonial perspective. These teachings are of Turtle Island (this continent).

My current project is my degree track to a PhD and will complete in native studies and specialize in restoring my family history for our people. I have 22 years of journals in my Grandfather Khahtsahlano’s indigenous worldview written by an archivist from Vancouver. I joined RAP to provide my input regarding older adults and technology and other parts of PMH research.

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Dr. Theodore Cosco

Bonnie-Jean Gale

I retired from my career in marketing, management and computer sales and service for physical reasons. I am now enjoying my time participating in the Research Advisory Panel for PMH. My enthusiasm comes from being involved with a project that will help seniors dealing with mental health issues and assisting in finding innovative practices that will help seniors with this serious problem. 

One way I contributed was by creating a report that dealt with seniors and their challenges adapting to the new technologies and digital devices. With COVID, many seniors experienced isolation from family and friends. Loneliness negatively affected their mental health.

My hope is that PMH will use this information and find effective ways of introducing seniors to this new knowledge and enjoy being in contact with the outside world again. I am a voracious reader, create videos and study digital art and computer painting. I am contemplating continuing my education in political science or economics.

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Dr. Theodore Cosco

David Handelman

I began my career as a teacher in School District 36 (Surrey) and then became a lawyer.  I retired in 2009.  I am currently a board member of 411 Seniors Centre Society.  Our new seniors centre is now open at 3502 Fraser Street in Vancouver. The building is digitally-wired so that older adults will have access to virtual learning, senior-led podcasts, video streaming, workshops on using technology, and digital tools. A senior-driven organization, our society has always had a focus on the physical and mental health of seniors. Many of our programs have the goal of creating social and educational opportunities for seniors to gather to learn and teach each other.  I believe PMH has the opportunity to significantly impact the mental health of seniors by evaluating their needs and researching and developing solutions.

Dr. Theodore Cosco

Lorna Romilly

Currently retired, I have worked in health care, in my early days as the manager of a long term care facility for those with mental health issues, and in post-secondary education, and was a consultant for over 40 years in health care, including long-term care, and post-secondary institutions.  Among many projects I have done are program reviews of respite services, emergency services for seniors, and long term care facilities. For Precision Mental Health, I suggested topics for future research including ideas for how to deal with abusive children, physically, mentally, financially; where to get support and the research on happiness; and what makes a good life. 

One of my passions is watching movies and I created a course called Cinema Salon for Elder College on the North Shore. Participants watch 5 movies I have selected on a theme and then a few days later we discuss (for the last 3 years on Zoom). The discussions have been very rich and I’ve discovered the disparate, interesting contributions seniors can make from lives well-lived.

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