Marina Morrow

Centre to study mental health, addiction, inequality

January 7, 2010

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How do the intersections of gender, race, poverty and other social factors affect services and outcomes for people with mental health and addiction issues?

That’s one of the questions SFU’s new Vancouver campus Centre for the Study of Gender, Social Inequities and Mental Health plans to address.

The centre will investigate why there is unequal access to services and health outcomes for people with mental illness and substance-use problems.

It will also help develop programs, policies and interventions to resolve these issues, with the goal of improving adult mental health both in Canada and abroad.

SFU health scientists Marina Morrow and Elliot Goldner and the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Howard Chodos will lead the centre, which will include more than 30 national and international co-investigators and collaborators.

Morrow, a community psychologist, specializes in research related to gender and mental health and mental-health reform.

"I would say women are still under-served—most services don’t take gender into account," she says.

"Yet within the female population, women are more at risk of sexual exploitation and violence, particularly if they suffer from mental health issues."

Centre activities will focus on mental health reform; recovery and housing; reproductive mental health; violence, mental health and substance use; and the criminal justice system, mental health and substance use.

"The centre has three main functions," explains Morrow. "To foster research in the key priority areas, to develop knowledge exchange that will encourage implementation of our research findings, and to mentor and train students and community-based researchers who can build capacity in the field of social inequities and mental health."

"There’s a pressing need for this centre," she says, "because there has been very little attention to the ways in which social and structural determinants affect people with mental health issues."

The centre is being funded with nearly $2 million from the Institute of Gender and Health, part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


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It'a about time,when we read and can easily see it, that a big percentage of people in correctional institutions as well as youth institurion, are people with mental health issues, from bipolar to depression, to adhd and many other conditions, the need is there. Those people are the ones that gets in trouble with the law at an early age and carry on a pattern like in the case of Ahsley Smith. In other cases medication that was supposed to help them send them spiralling in a world of addictions and criminal behaviors. Like I read somewhere, "we have to look at addiction and mental health with more reality and less morality", by a community street worker.

Lucy Hume

This is great news! FYI, The Jean Tweed Centre is a women-centered health funded agency in Toronto. We offer a range of services to assist women and their families who are attempting to reduce the harm associated with substance misuse/abuse and problem gambling.

Neasa Martin

Congratulations on the establishment of your institute and its mission. This is a heart-warming progression seeing the CIHR fund this kind of cross-cutting important work. This is long over due.

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