Equity and Mental Health

Mental health impacts every one of us and is influenced by the social and economic conditions that shape our life experiences, referred to as the social determinants of health (SDOH).


Social Determinants of Health

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the living conditions that shape the health of individuals. The SDOH include Aboriginal status, disability, early life, education, employment and working conditions, food insecurity, health services, gender, housing, income and income distribution, race, social exclusion, social safety net, unemployment and job security.[1]Mikkonen, J. & Raphael, D. (2010). Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts. Toronto: York University School of Health Policy and Management. Retrieved from https:// thecanadianfacts.org/The_Canadian_Facts.pdf
For more information, visit: thecanadianfacts.org


In addressing the SDOH, three related factors are particularly significant for mental health: freedom from discrimination and violence, social inclusion, and access to economic resources.[2]Mental Health Promotion in Ontario: A Call to Action. (2008). CAMH, CMHA Ontario, Centre for Health Promotion at the University of Toronto, Health Nexus, Ontario Public Health Association. Retrieved from https://ontario.cmha.ca/wp-content/ uploads/2008/11/mental_health_promotion_in_ontario_2008.pdf

1 Discrimination refers to actions taken to exclude or treat others differently because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and/or disability, creating a hostile and stressful environment.[3]Rychetnikn L. & Todd, A. (2004). VicHealth mental health promotion evidence review: A literature review focusing on
the VicHealth 1999-2002 Mental Health Promotion Framework.
Victoria, VicHealth: Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au
Violence is often the vehicle through which discrimination is acted out, and includes abuse, neglect, bullying, violence by intimate partners, sexual violence, state sponsored violence, self-directed violence and collective violence.[4]Krug, E. G., Dahlberg, L. L., Mercy, J. A., Zwi, A. B. & Lozano, R. (2002). World report on violence and health. Geneva, World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int
2 Social inclusion or connectedness is protective of mental health. Having social ties can promote feelings of attachment and companionship, enhancing one’s sense of purpose, self-esteem, and ability to deal with adversity.[5]Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. (2005). Social inclusion as a determinant of mental health and wellbeing. Victoria, VicHealth Mental Health & Well-Being Unit. Retrieved from http:// www.vichealth.vic.gov.au
3 Access to economic resources, such as housing, education, work and income, impacts one’s level of social connectedness and personal sense of competence.[6]Mulvihill, M., Mailloux, L. & Atkin, W. (2001). Advancing policy and research responses to immigrant and refugee women’s health in Canada. Winnipeg, Canadian Women’s Health Network. Retrieved from http://www.cewh-cesf.ca

 
Feeling safe, socially included, and being able to access economic resources have a significant impact on our mental health and are especially important to consider as diversity increases on campus.

As an example, consider Indigenous students, whose participation in post-secondary learning has historically been limited due to the lasting impacts of colonization. Decades of systemic discrimination, violence, exclusion, and economic marginalization has created barriers for Indigenous students in accessing higher education. The impacts of these issues are wide-ranging, touch diverse regions and populations across the province, and are entrenched in services. Some postsecondary campuses have started taking measures to address these by working with Indigenous communities to create supports and programming that honour their histories and life experiences.[7]Cull, I., Hancock, R. L. A., McKeown, S., Pidgeon, M. & Vedan, A. (2018). Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors Pulling Together: A Guide for Indigenization of Post- Secondary Institutions. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationfrontlineworkers/

In order to better understand steps that lead to action, this toolkit outlines examples of strategies to support individuals coping with discrimination and violence, social exclusion, and economic marginalization. It also provides guidance to those looking to implement these from different levels of interaction, including at the individual-, program-, and policy-level.

Equity and Mental Health

References   [ + ]

1. Mikkonen, J. & Raphael, D. (2010). Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts. Toronto: York University School of Health Policy and Management. Retrieved from https:// thecanadianfacts.org/The_Canadian_Facts.pdf
2. Mental Health Promotion in Ontario: A Call to Action. (2008). CAMH, CMHA Ontario, Centre for Health Promotion at the University of Toronto, Health Nexus, Ontario Public Health Association. Retrieved from https://ontario.cmha.ca/wp-content/ uploads/2008/11/mental_health_promotion_in_ontario_2008.pdf
3. Rychetnikn L. & Todd, A. (2004). VicHealth mental health promotion evidence review: A literature review focusing on
the VicHealth 1999-2002 Mental Health Promotion Framework.
Victoria, VicHealth: Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au
4. Krug, E. G., Dahlberg, L. L., Mercy, J. A., Zwi, A. B. & Lozano, R. (2002). World report on violence and health. Geneva, World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int
5. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. (2005). Social inclusion as a determinant of mental health and wellbeing. Victoria, VicHealth Mental Health & Well-Being Unit. Retrieved from http:// www.vichealth.vic.gov.au
6. Mulvihill, M., Mailloux, L. & Atkin, W. (2001). Advancing policy and research responses to immigrant and refugee women’s health in Canada. Winnipeg, Canadian Women’s Health Network. Retrieved from http://www.cewh-cesf.ca
7. Cull, I., Hancock, R. L. A., McKeown, S., Pidgeon, M. & Vedan, A. (2018). Front-Line Staff, Student Services, and Advisors Pulling Together: A Guide for Indigenization of Post- Secondary Institutions. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/indigenizationfrontlineworkers/
Guide: PDF Version