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Stressing the Importance of Stress: The Ryerson Institute for Stress and Wellbeing Research

From the pain of growing teeth and the uncertainty of starting preschool, to the competition for a promotion and the pressure of paying off a mortgage, we are all affected by stress, from the day we are born and well into old age.

Given both the prevalence of stress and its pervasive, lifelong impact, the Department of Psychology founded the Institute for Stress and Wellbeing Research. The institute studies stress as it occurs across the entire human lifespan, from infancy through adulthood into old age. It is the first institution in the world to do so.

The institute received over $1,000,000 in funding, including support from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation and matching funds from Ryerson University. Harry Rosen generously gifted $100,000 to the facility. In recognition of the entrepreneur’s contribution, The Harry Rosen Research Commons has been established.

The institute recognizes the cumulative impact of stress — how it adds up over time — and aims to explore stress within individuals and in relationships, particularly within the context of health and pathology, and development and intervention. The institute seeks to ask and answer new questions surrounding stress and its functioning in human beings.

Researchers in the institute work with state-of-the-art equipment that enhances research capabilities and enriches student training, offering students and faculty the opportunity to analyze brain activity and hormones, measure psychophysiological response, and assess eye movement. The facility houses sophisticated audio/visual recording equipment and an nVisor Virtual Reality system.

At the core of the institute’s resources is the expertise, training, and technical support that is provided by staff and researchers. The Institute for Research on Stress and Wellbeing gives Ryerson’s psychology department a huge boost in research potential by fostering collaborations and encouraging new research ventures. The institute is poised to answer questions surrounding stress that have previously been deemed unanswerable. With new insight into how and why stress manifests across the lifespan, we will gain a deeper understanding of the role that stress plays in how human beings function.