Media Highlight – Faces of Mental Health: Dalhousie seeks help from those affected for new study
May 27, 2016
How do you know what mental health services people need?
You ask those who use or require them.
That’s the premise of a research study Dalhousie University is launching within the next month. Adults 18 years of age and older living within HRM who have symptoms of depression, anxiety and distress are being encouraged to participate.
The study will examine people’s experiences with the mental health care system and with various types of care providers. It will also inquire about their personal mental health care approaches and how they think the system can improve.
“What we expect is that a lot of people are going to say that they want things that aren’t funded through our health care system,” said Amy Bombay, a psychologist and assistant professor at Dalhousie University involved with the study.
“We want to point that inconsistency out and be able to say, through their voices, that this is what they want, and if you guys want to know what to do, they’re telling you.”
Bombay’s focus is indigenous mental health, and so the survey will also focus on culture and other social determinants of health.
She said when she first arrived in Halifax two years ago, the Mi’kmaq community told her mental health was an issue of paramount importance. That was further highlighted when her friend, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre’s executive director Pam Glode-Desrochers, lost her nephew.
“We know that the wait times are very long, which doesn’t match with crisis situations with mental health. And these are crisis situations,” said Bombay.
“Like the case of Pam’s nephew (Cody Glode), an indigenous young man who (died by) suicide recently. He had reached out for help but the system, there was no one there to answer at that time.”
In addition to asking about what people want and need in terms of mental health care, Bombay said they want to know what works. She said research shows many minority groups, for example, don’t want medication. They want alternatives that aren’t available under the current system.
The results of the survey will eventually be shared with government, various groups and the general public.
“I think that decision makers, their response is ‘Well, what are the answers?’ and I think that this study will really tell us what works for people with lived experience and what they want,” Bombay said.
“And I think there’s no more valuable data than that.”