Mental Health & Public Health Studies

character hand wallpaper photo
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Mental Health and Public Health Studies are fields that focus on the mental and physical well-being of individuals and groups. Within this part of the book, we examine the impacts of mental health and public health as they relate to the contributing factors and outcomes for persons experiencing homelessness in Canada. We begin with a chapter on Mental Health, followed by a chapter on Public Health. As you work through these chapters, you are encouraged to critically reflect upon what these disciplines contribute to our knowledge and understanding of homelessness in Canada.


Perhaps as you read this, you are considering working in a career within the fields of Mental Health or Public Health, such as a Psychiatrist, Harm Reduction Worker, or Public Health Nurse. The chapters in this section are designed to help you think critically about some the questions you may encounter in these fields of employment. Understanding homelessness will help you navigate situations and choices you have to make. Consider, for example, a scenario in which a woman has had her children removed by Child Protection Workers, because she is struggling with severe mental illness. As a means of coping with the loss of custody, she has begun to self-medicate with alcohol and injection drug use. As a Psychiatrist you may meet this woman in your clinical practice. What will you recommend to help improve her mental health and well-being? As a Harm Reduction Worker or Public Health Nurse, you may meet this woman to help ensure she is using substances as safely as she can, or you may meet her in an emergency room following an overdose episode. What connections will you make between the loss of her children, diagnosed mental illness, and use of substances? What supports will you be able to offer her with this insight?


Before you begin, pause to consider how you would respond in each of the roles of the scenario above. With the knowledge you currently have about homelessness in Canada, why do you think mental health and public health are commonly intersecting fields? In the scenario, what might you do to prevent this woman’s mental and physical health from deteriorating, because of her circumstances?


You are encouraged to keep this scenario in your mind as you read through the next two chapters and ask yourself whether any of your responses change, or are reaffirmed, after learning more about what Mental Health and Public Health Studies can teach us about homelessness in Canada.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Understanding Homelessness in Canada Copyright © 2022 by Kristy Buccieri, James Davy, Cyndi Gilmer, and Nicole Whitmore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book