LS 810: Mental Health, Activism and History: Community Based Research

Fall 2017  | Dr. Mary Ellen Kelm


In the 1970s, Vancouver was home to a plethora of innovative responses to mental health needs. One of these, the Mental Patient’s Association (MPA), came together as a grassroots organization determined to meet the needs of mental patients leaving psychiatric institutions. In 1971, they pooled available resources to open the MPA Drop-In centre – a place where ex-mental patients came together to rebuild their lives and where radical new ideas about mental health care inverted the hierarchies of the psychiatric system. In January 2018, the Gallery Gachet will stage a recreation of the MPA Drop-In centre as a living history exhibit. This course is a chance for SFU students to participate in the documenting and commemorating of this unique history all the while learning essential techniques in community-based research.

Working alongside community partners – activists and historians -- students will develop new creative research skills, probe the histories of Vancouver’s radical past, and delve into larger questions around social movements, psychiatric history and de-institutionalization.

Course assessment

  • Annotated research bibliography (due in week 6): 20%
  • Research Assignment (due in week 13): 30%
  • Participation: 20%
  • Presentation to community partners (in week 6): 10%
  • Showcase (in week 13): 20%

Course Reading

  • Greg Halseth, Sean Markey, Laura Ryser, and Don Manson, Doing Community-Based Research: Perspectives from the Field. (Montreal, 2016)
  • And other readings available electronically or on Canvas.