Welcome to HC Link's blog! Our blog will provide you with useful information on healthy community topics, news, and resources, as well as information on HC Link’s events, activities, and resources. Our bloggers include HC Link staff and consultants, as well as our partnering organizations, clients, and experts in the health promotion field.

Please note: opinions in posts are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of HC Link or our funder.

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Helpful Resources on Health Equity

Submitted by Health Nexus and the CAMH Resource Centre

Health Promotion in Ethnocultural Communities




Culture Counts: A Roadmap to Health Promotion 

If you are thinking about starting a health promotion initiative in mental health and substance use for particular ethnocultural communities, Culture Counts: A Roadmap to Health Promotion can help. Culture Counts is a guide developed to help organizations and agencies break down the barriers between ethnocultural communities and effective health promotion in mental health and substance use. The guide is the outcome of the Best Practices in Community Education in Mental Health and Addiction with Ethnoracial/Ethnoculutral Communities Project, a provincial partnership between the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and seven community organizations. The Culture Counts guide, available in online and PDF versions, has been rereleased with updated links to online resources.

This guide outlines the basic steps and background to culturally competent health promotion in mental health and substance use but can be applied to almost any type of health promotion initiative aimed at ethnocultural communities. These basic steps include: breaking down barriers; working with community partners; gathering and analyzing information; planning the initiative, translating and cultural adaptation; putting the plan to work; and follow-up.

Cultural competence refers to the "capacity of an organization or individual to appreciate diversity, and to adapt to and work with people of different cultures, while ensuring everyone is treated equally.i" Improving health outcomes and reducing disparities in mental health and substance use health promotion initiatives and services for ethnocultural communities is of particular importance since increased rates of illnesses, poorer access to care and care outcomes and poorer satisfaction with services have been reported amongst immigrant, refugee, ethnocultural and racialized groups in Canadaii.

*To help support Healthy Communities audiences develop health promotion initiatives in mental health and substance use with ethnocultural communities, the CAMH Resource Centre is offering a complimentary hard copy of Culture Counts: A Roadmap to Health Promotion. Please see below for detailsiii.


Reduce Racialized Health Inequities

Health Nexus has developed two resources focused on building capacity to reduce health inequities among communities that experience racism in Ontario:



Health Equity and Racialized Groups: A Literature Review

The Literature Review presents a framework for understanding and action on racialized health disparities that will be welcomed by those who are working to reduce health inequities.

It provides an overview of the topic, a synthesis of our knowledge to date on it, a brief history of how it has been addressed in Ontario, and examples of what is meant by taking an anti-racist approach to health promotion.







Addressing Health Inequalities for Racialized Communities: Resource Guide

This Resource Guide is a tool to support the capacity and effectiveness of those who are engaged in health promotion to reduce racialized health inequities.

Physical activity, mental health promotion, healthy eating/food security are examples of entry points to address racialized health inequities, and direct attention to the broader, underlying causes that need to be addressed.





iKobus-Matthews, M, Agic, B, Tate, M. (2012). Culture Counts: A Roadmap to Health Promotion.  A Guide to Best Practices for Developing Health Promotion Initiatives in Mental health and Substance Use with Ethnocultural Communities. Toronto: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

iiHansson E, Tuck A, Lurie S and McKenzie K, for the Task Group of the Services Systems Advisory Committee, Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2010). Improving mental health services for immigrant, refugee, ethno-cultural and racialized groups: Issues and options for service improvement

iiiTo receive a complimentary hard copy of Culture Counts, please send an email to resources[at]ohcc-ccso[dot ca] with the subject line: "Culture Counts". Please note that this offer is only available to those working in Ontario. Due to limited quantities, this offer is available on a first-come-first-serve basis with a limit of one complimentary hard copy per organization. Please include the following information in the body of your email: 1. Name; 2. Organization; 3. Work address, phone number and email address.

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Promoting mental health in public health

Submitted by the CAMH Resource Centre and the Mental Health Promotion Program at Toronto Public Health

Despite its absence in the Ontario Public Health Standards, mental health promotion is a key issue of importance for Public Health professionals. 75 participants registered for the March 20th webinar "Promoting mental health in public health" (both slides and a recording of the webinar are available for those who were unable to attend). Presented by the CAMH Resource Centre in collaboration with the Mental Health Promotion Program at Toronto Public Health, the webinar explored the importance of promoting mental health within a public health setting and provided an overview of mental health promotion concepts, tools and principles relevant to Pubic Health audiences. Some time and discussion was spent looking at and identifying ways Public Health stakeholders could, and in some cases, were already implicitly (and for some, explicitly!) integrating mental health promotion in Public Health programming.

A webinar poll asking participants to identify "Which of the following mental health promotion activities is or has your Public Health Unit been engaged in?" revealed that despite the fact mental health promotion is not included in the OPHS, Public Health stakeholders were participating in a range of mental health promotion activities including:

  • Raising awareness in students, parents and community members of mental health (54%)


  • Facilitating small group support sessions (e.g. healthy relationships, anger management, positive parenting, etc.) (49%)

  • Providing in-service staff training on recognizing signs/symptoms of mental illness (MI), destigmatizing MI, and/or using appropriate intervention strategies when dealing with mental health issues (34%)

  • Assessment of mental health needs in school and/or community (29%)

  • Supporting school health committees in implementing "whole school mental health promotion" programs and enhancing protective factors (23%)

  • Providing school-based Public Health nursing services regarding mental health (i.e. dedicated time in schools for early identification, support and referral as needed) (14%)


With the growing recognition of the impact of mental health on public health issues such as substance and alcohol misuse, tobacco, injury prevention, healthy eating and physical activity, some Public Health Units have taken matters into their own hands and have started making mental health promotion explicit in Public Health. In addition, with current research telling us that freedom from discrimination and violence, social inclusion and access to economic resources are all strong indicators of positive mental health, Public Health has clearer objectives from which to focus their work. Jan Lancaster, Manager of the Mental Health Promotion Program at Toronto Public Health (TPH) provided an overview of mental health promotion activities and programs at TPH, including a history of the Mental Health Program. Jess Patterson, Health Promotion Consultant at TPH, provided an overview of some research TPH was undertaking on the intersection between public health and mental health promotion at Toronto Public Health that builds from the Ottawa Charter strategies for health promotion.

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New! Best Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion Programs: Refugees


Best Practice Guideslines Refugees Cover

Canada's foreign-born population is unique and varied, with cultural groups represented from all over the world. For the majority, Canada is their choice of country for reasons that include seeking opportunities to improve the future of their families, to join friends or family living in Canada, and/or fleeing their country of origin and seeking asylum in Canada. As many health promotion initiatives do not reach this population, Best Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion Programs: Refugees offers an opportunity to review current health promotion programs to improve their effectiveness in addressing the mental health and well-being of refugees.

As the third in a series of online guides for promoting positive mental health, this resource has been developed to support health and social service providers in incorporating best practice approaches to mental health promotion interventions focusing on refugees.

The resource includes:

  • Guidelines: 13 best practice guidelines for mental health promotion for the refugee population.

  • Background: Describes how refugees, as a heterogeneous population, are defined in this resource.

  • Exemplary programs: Describes several programs that incorporate good practice and exemplify the guidelines.

  • Outcome and process indicators: Provides examples of indicators for measuring program success.

  • Theory: Provides definitions and underlying concepts, with a focus on promoting resilience.

  • Resources: Provides a worksheet and sample to help plan and implement mental health promotion initiatives, plus a list of resources, and glossary.

  • References and Acknowledgements

The resource is available for download in PDF at:

The Best Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion Programs is a joint project between the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto; and Toronto Public Health.


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