Result of an interaction between biological and psychosocial factors across lifespan. But
research has more focused on biological factors leading to a biomedically biased mental health
Poverty and social inequality are two key factors in mental health which disproportionately
affect women and especially Aboriginal and elderly women. Other social explanations for mental
illnesses in women include the adverse effects of inferior social status, impaired self esteem,
family caregiving burden, sexual abuse , sexual discrimination , economic inequities and
constricted educational and occupational opportunities
Social differences that affect people’s status and access to resources include race, ethnicity,
sexual orientation, gender identity and class to understand development of mental health
Analyses of mental health must recognize that gender inequality is a feature in all populations
while not losing sight of the importance of race, ethnicity, class and other social dimensions.
CITIZEN ENGAGMENT , THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM and WOMEN
Citizenship is not just about having citizenship rights (e.g legal or civil rights, political rights, or
social or economic rights), it is also about the capacity to practice as citizens.
Women were historically excluded from the rights and responsibilities of citizenship
For feminists, democratic ideals to be put into practice in the form of participatory democracy
Institutions and state and social practices shape the experience of citizenship for women with
mental illness. For example, the practice of involuntary committal where women lose the right
to determine their own treatment and the experience of many women with mental illness who
are mothers who lose the right to have contact with their children are both illustrative of the
ways in which women’s experience of citizenship is constrained by state practices.
Citizen engagement must be understood within the broader context of service delivery and
policy development in mental health care in Canada, In Canada, mental health policy
development in mental health care in under provincial jurisdiction and the delivery of services
and management of mental health budgets are handled regionally in most provinces and
territories (Ontario is an exception).
Commitments to involving mental health care recipients and their families in policy and
treatment decision making processes emerged in formal policy statements and mental health
plans in the late 1980s.
Degree to which the mental health system is responsive to women can therefore be assessed,
through an examination of 1) degree to which governments have made explicit commitments to
women’s mental health including resources to support those commitments and 2) the degree to
which women who are or have been recipients of mental health care are supported in citizen
engagement mechanisms for influencing mental health policy and practice.
These components are integrally linked
WOMEN AND MENTAL HEALTH POLICY IN ONTARIO, QUEBEC AND BRITISH COLUMBIA:
Ontario has a strong and radical movement of psychiatric survivors that have had a direct
impact on the direction of policy that has resulted in the development of some important user-