A new book developed with researchers in London, Ont., and 35 community partners is giving a comprehensive look at poverty, mental health and social inclusion.
The book, Poverty, Mental Health, and Social Inclusion, edited by Cheryl Forchuk and Rick Csiernik, combines research by the Community-University Research Alliance (CURA), looking at how, poverty, mental health and social inclusion interact and solutions to addressing them.
A central focus of the CURA team has been understanding homelessness, what leads to someone experiencing homelessness, and how society responds.
“The pandemic has highlighted the issues of isolation and homelessness, and we know there is a connection between mental health and poverty. Unfortunately, right now, many people don’t see solutions in sight,” said Forchuk, Assistant Scientific Director at Lawson Health Research Institute.
“It’s really a celebration of London because we had so many community partners involved. We had 59 collaborators, so it’s a celebration of all of the work we did and the various solutions that we came up with.”
Forchuk said while not all of the researchers involved were from the area, they used London as the basis for their research.
The book combined information from people with lived experiences with community partners from Connect for Mental Health (peer support), Impact Junk Solutions from CMHA Elgin-Middlesex, and Goodwill Industries, to name a few.
The academic text gives readers a combination of real stories and information about programs in the London area that are working to address issues through a variety of different perspectives.
“There is no sense talking about how to include people (in) society and not include them in the decision and the solution,” Forchuk said.
One of the other people involved in this project is Betty Edwards, executive director at Can-Voice, a consumer-survivor group, and Community Director for CURA.
When talking about the situations people experiencing mental health issues and poverty face, Edwards said it requires a conversation across different sectors.
“No one sector can solve these issues on their own,” Edwards said.
“In order to find real solutions, the voices of people using the services must be at the centre. Their stories and experiences have been a very important part of producing this book.”
Forchuk said she hopes other communities and service providers can learn from the success London has had in addressing these issues through this book.