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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.

We look forward to engaging in thought-provoking conversation with you!

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HC Link’s East Regional Gathering: “From Knowledge to Action: Moving Forward on the Social Determinants of Health”

Submitted by Lorna McCue, HC Link

  • Are you concerned about the inequities in our society, especially in relation to our children?
  • Would you like to better understand what the social determinants of health are and how they impact the overall health and wellbeing of everyone?
  • Would you like to see how you can make a make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling in our society?

These are the questions that were posed to participants of HC Link's East Regional Gathering: "From Knowledge to Action: Moving Forward on the Social Determinants of Health", held Tuesday, November 6, 2012 in Renfrew County.

The gathering was initiated by HC Link, as one of four regional gathering undertaken this year.  Other regional gatherings are being planned in the northeast, central east and southwest regions of the province. Through Lyn Smith, Coordinator of the Renfrew County Child Action Poverty Network, HC Link staff connected with and worked with others to plan and event that would focus attention on the social determinants of health.

HCL Kara

 

Sixty-two people gathered to listen to panelists that inspired us with their stories and creative practices, and to engage in dialogue with each other to share, plan, and come up with creative solutions to take back to their community and/or place of work. The gathering was facilitated by Jeff Kohl, of HC Link and was organized around four specific topic areas:

  1. Social Determinants of Health, with Suzanne Schwenger of HC Link and Karen Woods, of the Parent Resource Centre;
  2. Mental Health Promotion, with Greg Lubimiv, Executive Director of the Phoenix Centre for Children & Families and Tom Sidney, Youth Crisis Intervention Specialist for the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board;
  3. Community Food Security/Systems, with Lorna McCue of HC Link, Nancy Wildgoose, Executive Director of The Table Community Food Centre and Shawna Babcock of KidActive;
  4. Housing/Homelessness, with Dave Studham , Executive Director of Renfrew County United Way, Arijana Tomicic, Executive Director of Family & Children's Services, Lina Farias, Psychotherapist, Shelley VanBuskirk, Housing Services Branch, City of Ottawa and Tom Sidney from the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board.

Please click on the speaker name to access their presentation

All speakers shared valuable information and perspectives, as did many of the participants. Karen Wood, assisted by Shawna Babcock, used humour to illustrate various facets of the social determinants of health by re-writing the letters of children's book The Jolly Postman. Greg Lubimiv shared a story of transformational change in the way he viewed what "helping" can mean for clients. Tom Sydney spoke about the importance of creating resiliency within our youth, so they can learn to cope with the difficulties they face in life. Participants were impressed by the story of the transformation of the Perth Food Bank into The Table Community Food Centre, which offers a comprehensive range of community food programs, a peer advocacy office and an 8,000 sq. ft. community garden, with the help of over 100 volunteers.

 

HCL Tom


Throughout the day the room was often buzzing as participants caught up with colleagues and talked about the common issues they are facing. Throughout the day participants suggested potential topics for the conversation café, held after the final panel presentation. During the ensuing conversation, quite a bit of interest was shown in the concept of "radical efficiency", aimed at creating different, better and lower cost public services.

At the end of the day, participants were asked what they saw as being the most important role for HC Link. There were many nods in the crowd for the suggestion that, just as our name indicates, our primary function should be to connect groups working on similar projects, so they don't need to re-invent the wheel and repeat the mistakes of others. From the evaluation forms and the feedback we heard at the event, it seems that this regional gathering was a success, and was seen by participants as an important opportunity to update their knowledge and network with each other.

Related Documents

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Webinar Recap: Introduction to promoting positive mental health

On June 28th, in collaboration with HC Link, the CAMH Resource Centre held the third iteration of the ever popular webinar "Introduction to Promoting Positive Mental Health". Marianne Kobus-Matthews and Tamar Meyer, both Health Promotion Consultants in the Provincial System Support Program at CAMH facilitated the webinar.

The first half of the webinar provided an overview of mental health promotion concepts and why it is a mainstream activity; or in other words, the "what" and "why" of mental health promotion. Tamar spent some time delineating between "mental health" and "mental illness" and referred to what Corey Keyes calls a mental health continuum and a mental illness continuum. Keyes argues that "mental illness and mental health are highly correlated but belong to separate continua, and therefore the prevention and treatment of mental illnesses will not necessarily result in more mentally healthy individuals." To see a visual explanation of this mental health/mental illness continuum including a story that may help illustrate it, view the recording starting at the 12:00 minute mark.

Screen shot 2012-07-06 at 3.38.14 PM

In the second half of the webinar, Marianne covered the "how" of mental health promotion. That is, she reviewed strategies, best practices, resources and exemplary programs to promote positive mental health and explored how our work in mental health promotion may intersect with other risk factors and priority areas. In addition to highlighting the series of best practice guidelines for mental health promotion programs (Children (7-12) and Youth (13-19); Older Adults 55+; Immigrants and Refugees) identified by Marianne, a webinar participant from Sick Kids shared information on Infant Mental Health Promotion, including a set of best practice guidelines. For more information and resources on infant mental health promotion, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thanks to all the webinar participants who shared their innovative programs, best practices and resources!

Marianne also highlighted a newly released resource called YouThrive – a bilingual web-based resource for leaders in communities and schools that uses a health promotion approach to support positive mental health and prevent risk-taking behaviour among young people. Developed in a partnership involving CAMH, the Canadian Mental Health Association (Ontario), the Ontario Lung Association and Ophea, it is for leaders in communities and schools across Ontario who work with youth aged 12 to 19. While technical issues prevented us from showing the YouThrive video during the webinar, we encourage you to take a look at the 4-minute video and visit the YouThrive website.

 

Over 60 people participated in the webinar and included a broad array of sectors with the majority (43%) of participants working in a Public Health setting, followed by community services (18%). Other participants included Ministry staff, those working in school health, workplace health/human resources, and First Nations health, as well as community engagement. Thank you for your continued interest in promoting positive mental health!

Slides, webinar recording and a list of web links and resources identified during the webinar are available via HC Link.

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Helpful Resources on Health Equity

Submitted by Health Nexus and the CAMH Resource Centre

Health Promotion in Ethnocultural Communities

 

CultureCounts

 

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:

LitReview

 

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.

 

 

 

 

ResourceGuide

 

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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Webinar Recap: Health Promotion Programming for Older Adults: Mental Health, Gambling, Substance and Alcohol Misuse

By Tamar Meyer, CAMH Resource Centre

Older adults (55 years and older) often experience health inequities and for this reason, have been identified as a target population within the Healthy Communities Fund Grant Program. According to a recent Statistics Canada report1, seniors (identified by Statistics Canada as 65+) are the fastest-growing age group in Canada representing 14% of the overall Canadian population in 2009 and expected to grow to between 23-25% in 2036. Between 2015-2021, and for the first time in the history of the Canadian population, a dramatic shift is expected to occur where the number of people aged 65 years of age and over is expected to surpass the number of children (14 and under). This dramatic acceleration combined with the health inequities that older adults often experience make it imperative to apply a health promotion lens to this “silver tsunami”. 

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On March 28th, the CAMH Resource Centre, in collaboration with HC Link, held a two-hour webinar called: “Health Promotion Programming for Older Adults: Mental Health, Gambling, Substance and Alcohol Misuse”.Carolynne Cooper, social worker with CAMH's Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario’s Counseling Services and Marianne Kobus-Matthews, Senior Health Promotion Consultant, provided an overview mental health promotion concepts, and gambling, substance and alcohol misuse prevention strategies and programming directed towards older adults. Webinar participants and facilitators discussed risk and protective factors impacting the health and well-being of older adults.  The importance of social and emotional support to reduce social isolation, financial security, and senior-friendly environments – that is environments that are accessible, provide a sense of community, recreational activities, and a variety of different health promoting and prevention services and supports – were identified by presenters and webinar participants as key protective factors to promote the health of older people. 

Louise Daw, Healthy Communities Consultant with the Physical Activity Resource Centre (PARC), also joined Marianne and Carolynne to share some information and resources highlighting the intersections between physical activity, and the mental health and older adults.  

To access the PowerPoint slides, click hereTo watch a recording of the webinar, click here.

 

Key documents:


Statistics Canada (2010) Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories: 2009-2036.  Minister of Industry: Ottawa. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/91-520-x/91-520-x2010001-eng.pdf  Accessed March 29, 2012.
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Swimming Upstream: A Mental Health (Promotion!) Strategy for Canada

 By Tamar Meyer, CAMH Resource Centre

 

This week, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), chaired by CAMH’s Senior Medical Advisor, Dr. David Goldbloom, released Canada’s first National mental health strategy called Changing Directions, Changing Lives. Released during National Mental Health Week, the Strategy is the first of its kind in Canada.  Did you know that prior to the release of this Strategy, Canada was the only G7 country without a national strategy on mental health?

This 6-pronged strategy makes 106 recommendations that cover not only health care but social determinants of health and issues like affordable housing and the justice system; focuses on health equity by underscoring disparities and diversity; addresses the role of poverty and racism; and highlight priority populations like youth, minority official language communities, older adults, immigrants, refugees, ethnocultural and racialized populations, First Nations, Inuit and Métis and northern and remote populations.

“It is important that, in promoting mental well-being and reducing risk factors for every­one, we do whatever we can to reduce the gap between those who are thriving and those whose mental health is most at risk.” - p. 21

Mental health promotion figures prominently in the report and is highlighted in the forefront as Strategic Direction 1. The Strategy underscores that mental health promotion needs to occur across the lifespan and in a wide range of settings including schools, community organizations and workplaces. Mental health promotion efforts should include raising awareness on how to promote mental health, prevent mental illness and reduce stigma, and is most effective through initiatives that target specific groups and settings. 

Strategic Direction 1: "Promote mental health across the lifespan in homes, schools, and workplaces, and prevent mental illness and suicide wherever possible.” - p.20

Beyond the first Strategic Direction, it is encouraging to see that mental health promotion is interwoven throughout the entire Strategy resulting in recommendations for action that directly correspond to the main determinants of mental health including: social inclusion and connectedness (see recommendations for action 1.4.2, 3.4.1); violence and discrimination (4.5.3., 5.4.3), and access to economic resources (2.2.1., 2.3.1., 3.5.3).

The CAMH Resource Centre is a great source for additional information and resources. It has hosted a series of mental health promotion webinars to better equip health promotion and public health audiences in Ontario.  These webinars include: 

- Introduction to promoting positive mental health  (slides, resources)

- Mental health promotion in action: reflections from Northern Ontario (slides, recording)

- Introduction à la promotion de la santé mentale positive (slides)

- Promoting positive mental health for immigrants and refugees (slides)

- Promoting mental health in public health (slides, recording)

- Health promotion programming for older adults: mental health, gambling, substance and alcohol misuse (slides, recording)

In addition, there are a number of different mental health promotion tools and resources.  Please visit the mental health promotion resources section of HC Link for more information. 

 

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Webinar Recap - Promoting Positive Mental Health for Immigrants and Refugees

On March 6th, approximately 35 health professionals from across Ontario joined the CAMH resource centre and HC Link for a webinar called "Promoting Positive Mental Health for Refugees and Immigrants". Participants came from a diverse range of organizations and agencies and included educators, policy makers, settlement workers, public health professionals and resource coordinators to name a few. Joanne Brown from HC Link introduced the presenters, Angela Martella, Community Engagement and System Planner at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and Marianne Kobus-Matthews, Senior Health Promotion Consultant, also from CAMH. Together, Angela and Marianne provided a review of key concepts related to mental health promotion; outlined mental health promotion best practices related to immigrants and refugees; described some exemplary programs working to promote refugee and immigrant mental health and lastly, introduced two resources to apply mental health promotion principles into practice.

These resources included the recently launched Best Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion Programs: Refugees and the Best Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion Programs: Immigrants (to be launched this spring). These guides are two new additions to an online series that present health and social service providers with evidence-based approaches to mental health promotion with various populations. The guides outline best practices and provide practical tools to assist service providers in integrating evidence-based approaches to mental health promotion in their work with immigrants and refugees. Each guide includes 13 best practice guidelines, outcome and process indicators, as well as a worksheet and a sample to help plan and implement mental health promotion initiatives with refugees and immigrants.

During the webinar, participants were asked to identify what the term "mental health" meant to them. Using the chat box function, participants entered words and phrases like "well-being", "trying to find a balance in life", "flourishing, living to one's full potential", "able to cope with stress", while another participant wrote: "mental health to me means fluidity, balance, connectedness, peace". This is well-aligned with Health Canada's definition of mental health as:

"... the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity."   Health Canada, 1997

Building on the importance of culture, equity, and social justice in defining mental health, Angela and Marianne discussed the impact of risk and protective factors on refugee and immigrant mental health, that is, characteristics that are associated with an individual or community that will make it more likely to either develop a problem or will reduce the likelihood that a problem will develop. Participants were asked to identify risk factors (including determinants of health) that contribute to poor mental health for refugees and immigrants and contributed the following: social isolation, language barriers, immigration status, being separated from one's family, discrimination and racism, experiences of war/torture/trauma, parenting in two cultures, and factors such as employment, housing, and access to health services.

Some of the protective factors for refugee and immigrant mental health that were identified by webinar participants included: social and community supports, culture, leaving traumatic environments, having a sense of identity, belonging to a faith community, social structures that accommodate diverse individuals, having knowledge of the system, settlement services, opportunity for civil engagement, and supportive policies. As both the participants and the webinar facilitators illustrated during the webinar, risk and protective factors for the mental health and well-being of refugees and immigrants are experienced and can be impacted at an individual, community and societal level and action needs to occur at multiple levels, using multiple strategies that are culturally appropriate.

Thank you to all participants for a dynamic webinar. For more information and to download a copy of the Best Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion Programs: Refugees, please visit CAMH's Knowledge Exchange Portal:
http://knowledgex.camh.net/policy_health/mhpromotion/Pages/BPGuidelinesrefugee.aspx.

Please stay tuned to HC Link for more information on the upcoming launch of the Best Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion Programs: Immigrants.

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