Dr. Brianna Turner

Dr. Brianna  Turner
Assistant Professor

Dr. Brianna Turner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. She is also the director of the Risky Behaviour Lab. Prior to joining the department in 2016, Dr. Turner obtained both her MA and PhD from Simon Fraser University, completed her clinical internship at the University of Washington, and held a CIHR Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University. She has been an active research fellow with the Centre for Youth & Society since 2017.

Dr. Turner’s research focuses on self-harm and other types of self-damaging behaviours in youth and young adults. Much of her research surrounds an understanding of how youth develop self-damaging behaviour, ranging from self-harm in a traditional sense to risky alcohol use to disordered eating, and how they may transition between these behaviours. Dr. Turner also looks at how people transition out of self-damaging behaviours and their long-term mental health trajectories. 

There’s lots of risk-taking that can be fairly adaptive for young adults, as well as potentially more maladaptive or potentially damaging types of patterns of risk-taking.

— Dr. Brianna Turner

Along with her team at the Risky Behaviour Lab, Dr. Turner spearheaded the Many Minds project, a large-scale project which examined the risk-taking behaviours of two consecutive years of first-year students over the course of a year. The first year of university can be a time of tremendous transition for many young adults. Dr. Turner's team is interested in how youth adapt to these changes and what risky behaviour they engage in during this period. Dr. Turner has also done recent research on transitions away from non-suicidal self-injury during young adulthood using data from the Victoria Healthy Youth Survey.

Recently, Dr. Turner has been involved in a Canada-wide study of the mental health impacts of the COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, experts warned of a secondary crisis on the heels of the pandemic with an increase in suicide numbers given the stress, depression, and economic difficulties associated with the pandemic. A team of UVic researchers, including Dr. Turner, Dr. Theone Paterson, CFYS research fellow Dr. Chris Lalonde, Dr. Karen Kobayashi, and Dr. Natasha Wawrykow have conducted three surveys. Each survey has approximately 5,000 participants and assesses the anxiety, depression, stress, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and suicidal ideation of Canadians. The hope is to identify different kinds of coping strategies and resilience factors that have helped people as they go through the pandemic as well as risk factors so society can be better prepared should we go through a similar experience again. The next stage of the study involves investigations into the mental health impacts of specific subpopulations who may have been particularly impacted by COVID-19, including healthcare workers, Indigenous people, and those in rural or remote communities. 

Early in the pandemic, there were a lot of warnings that we were going to potentially see [a] secondary crisis on the heels of the pandemic with an increase in suicide given the stress and depression that many people were reporting as well as some of the economic impacts of the pandemic and so far that’s not the case.

— Dr. Brianna Turner

To learn more about the project and to view survey results as they are released, please visit oac.uvic.ca/covidmentalhealth/.

Recent publications

Robillard, C. L., Dixon-Gordon, K. L., & Turner, B. J. (2021). Teaching dialectical thinking to enhance graduate trainees’ competence in outpatient psychotherapy for adolescents experiencing suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/cap0000297

Turner, B. J., Robillard, C. L., Ames, M. E., and Craig, S. G. (2021). Prevalence and Correlates of Suicidal Ideation and Deliberate Self-harm in Canadian Adolescents During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. August 2021. doi:10.1177/07067437211036612

Legg, N. K. & Turner, B. J. (2020). Personality correlates of eating pathology severity and subtypes in The National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent SupplementJournal of Clinical Psychology, (77), 189-210https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.23021 

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