Youth Mental Health, Poverty, and Social Inequality: Youth, Parent & Service Provider Perspectives

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Brandi BELL, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada
Sarah GALLANT, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada
Youth mental health policy is quickly emerging and shifting in many western nations as new data emerges. However, this policy is lacking in nuance as to how social inequality and poverty operate and how new data could feed policy and practice. This paper provides data for such nuance and direction.

In this presentation, we explore the complicated relationships between poverty and social inequality on the access and care that youth encounter in their mental health journey. Interviews (n=164) were conducted as part of the Atlantic Canada Children’s Effective Service Strategies in Mental Health (ACCESS-MH) project, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Drawing from these narrative and story-based journey interviews with youth experiencing mental health challenges (n=42), parents of such youth (n=45), and mental health service providers (n=77), we examine multi-vocal lessons as to how poverty and social inequality operate in these journeys.

We take a multi-vocal approach in this presentation to highlight not only the complex relationship between youth mental health and social inequality/poverty but the details as to how these three groups make sense of the way in which it operates. As young lives continue to be marked by increasing challenges with mental health, it is crucial that the links between mental health, poverty, and social inequality are fully established, nuanced, and recognized in policy and practice. Particularly for impoverished youth, it is important that policy and practice reflect the tiered system of access and care that remains inequitable.