UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Defining and servicing mental health in a remote northern community Harckham, Rebecca Clare


On a visit to the community of Arviat that extended over two months of spring of 2001, interviews were conducted with community members on the subject of mental health. In all, twenty interviews were recorded, documenting perceptions of community members regarding definitions of mental health, identification and discussion of mental health problems, and evaluations of Arviat's mental health services. Great disparity existed among definitions of mental health. This lack of a consistent definition of mental health may be an obstacle faced by those extending or designing related services in remote Arctic communities. The participants of the study provided a long list of problems experienced by their community that they would classify as mental health problems. In their critical analysis of formal mental health services, interviewees noted pressing problems, namely: scarcity, lack of continuity, lack of co-ordination, ineffectiveness, lack of recognition of community context, and cultural inappropriateness. Information offered by participants illuminated a need for further clarification of definitions of community wellness and of mental health problems, inclusion of the community in the development and maintenance of mental health endeavors, and exploration of alternatives or improvements to current systems of mental health services.

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