Repairing the Holes in the Net: Responding to the Mental Health Needs of Northern Homeless Women

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, addiction, housing, mental health, women, homeless

Principal Investigator: Poole, Nancy (1)
Licence Number: 15038
Organization: BC Centre of Excellence for Women's Health
Licensed Year(s): 2012
Issued: Mar 27, 2012
Project Team: Lyda Fuller, Rosemary Youngblut, Arlene Hache

Objective(s): To involve decision makers in the mental health, housing and social sectors in improving the systemic response to northern women with mental health concerns who have unstable housing/are homeless, informed by research with women and service providers.

Project Description: The aim of this research is to involve decision makers in the mental health, housing and social sectors in improving the systemic response to northern women with mental health concerns who have unstable housing/are homeless, informed by research with women and service providers. The objectives are: 1) to gather the perspectives of northern women regarding the trajectory of their unstable housing/homelessness; mental health challenges and access to services; and ideas for what might make/have made a difference to prevent homelessness, mental health concerns and related issues such as violence and substance use problems; 2) to involve service providers in identifying specific service improvements, including First Nations perspectives on mental health, that could alleviate barriers and enhance supports to services on the part of northern women with mental health and related health, housing and social concerns, contribute to improvement in women's health, and prevent homelessness; 3) to summarize academic literature, web-based reports and existing circumpolar policy reviews which describe effective approaches to prevention and alleviation of homelessness among women with mental health, substance use and violence-related concerns, and consider their relevance to guide approaches that would be effective in specific, northern, cultural contexts; and 4) to utilize a community of practice (CoP) model to support health system decision makers in each of the three territories to collectively: discuss evidence arising from the literature search; engage the research with women and service providers; discuss ideas for expanding and improving policy and practice; discuss factors affecting the implementation of such policy and practice; plan, implement, and monitor system adjustments; and plan knowledge translation strategies.

Data will be collected at selected service providers, serving women with housing and mental health concerns, located in Yellowknife. Individual interviews and focus group interviews will be digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim by a qualified transcriber. The Principal Investigator will post the transcripts on a blog accessible only to the research team, using an ID code assigned to each individual. The identities of each individual participant will be kept confidential and this information will be erased at project completion. All interview- and focus group-related data, including audio recordings will be stored in locked filing cabinets at the BC Centre for Excellence for Women's Health. Computer data and files will be stored in password protected files.

The project provides an opportunity for local service providers and decision-making partners to be involved with researchers in a community of practice, to discuss collaborative approaches to housing, mental health and related health and social issues for women and to plan locally feasible approaches to improving the response services where the women will be interviewed and the service providers participate in focus groups will be involved (and it is voluntary as to whether they join in the community of practice).

The Community of Practice members will discuss the interview and focus group findings. A summative report and an integrated pan-territorial report will be made available online and in print to reach other decision makers and service providers beyond those participating in the community of practice. Additional knowledge transition will be achieved through conference presentations with other groups in circumpolar regions, and through webcast presentations in collaboration with pertinent organizations such as Canadian Mental Health Association and the Arctic Health Research Network. A pan-territorial learning forum where results from comparable work being done in Yukon and Nunavut is planned for November 2012.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from March 23, 2012 to December 31, 2012.