Dr. Renee Robinson
BY JOEL SCHLESINGER
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2012
Home isn't just where the heart is. It's also
the basis for good mental health.
That's certainly no surprise to leading
researchers like Dr. Renee Robinson, an
associate professor of Psychiatric Nursing at
Brandon University's Faculty of Health Studies.
Her area of study is mental health services
in rural areas. And while many challenges exist
to provide care to people with ongoing, severe
mental illness in Manitoba's more sparsely
populated regions, they often do receive good
care. "In some ways it's considerably better
than in urban areas."
Yet housing and access to social programs
remain challenges - even in a more urban
setting like Brandon, she says. "From a
community health perspective, it's not
surprising that where you live and how you
spend your time is more important than crisis
intervention services because you're not in a
crisis all the time," she says.
But programs for adequate housing and
recreation, which have been proven to reduce acute health-care interventions for individuals who suffer from mental illness, are often
patchy in rural areas, and in Brandon, too -
as her studies have discovered. But it's not
just those people suffering from acute mental
illness who lack adequate housing.
"We hear heartbreaking stories about
women who come seeking shelter who have
no choice but to return with their children
to very unhealthy, even dangerous situations
because there's no alternative," she says.
More broadly, leaving home is often an
unavoidable fact of life for most people who
grow up in rural areas. They often must
leave their homes for work, school and
health reasons. That's stressful enough. Add
the anxiety of not being able to find decent
shelter, and you've got a recipe for poor
mental health. That's largely the reason why
Robinson has expanded her focus of research
recently, finding that affordable housing,
social programs and even health-care services
are not just good remedies for sufferers
of severe mental illness. They're a good
prescription for everyone's mental health.
Back to "Leading the way"
Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.
Read the November / December 2012 issue of Wave