All or Nothing: Experiences of Mental Health in Victoria, BC
Fall 2015. By Melanie Nicol, Community Health Network Coordinator.
The purpose of this research was to explore how experiences of self-identified mental health problems and disabilities intersect with broader systemic issues in the community of Victoria, BC (Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories). Research focused on privileging the voices of those who have been silenced due to their mental health struggles and honouring the epistemological significance of their lived experiences. By exploring lived experiences of mental health in Victoria, BC, broad systemic issues could be situated within “our own backyard.”
We wanted to know:
- What barriers people face when identifying with mental health problems and disabilities
- How experiences of mental health and mental health resources have impacted their lives
- What changes or improvements they would like to see in mental health services, and in the general public’s view(s) of mental health
- Who they would like to know about this research and their experiences
This research process revealed larger systemic issues surrounding mental health in British Columbia and Canada, including barriers to access and restricted resources in the mental health system, experiences of stigma and discrimination from various levels of society, and multiple intersections of people’s experiences of mental health with other experiences of marginalization.
The overarching concern that was discovered during data analysis was that Victoria’s mental health system is designed to deal solely with extremes. If crisis and wellness were placed on a spectrum, it is clear that there is a distinct lack of resources for those who fall within the middle or the “wellness” end of that spectrum. Within this middle ground, community organizations that approach mental health from a “recovery” perspective and others that serve marginalized populations carry the burden of filling this gap in both access and resources.