The most recent issues of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario’s Network magazine and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s CrossCurrents magazine focus on chronic disease prevention and management and mental health and illness.
In her guest editorial in Network, Betty Harvey, nurse practitioner with the Primary Care Diabetes Support Program at St. Joseph’s Health Care, London and associate professor at the University of Western Ontario, looks at why there is such a disparity between the general population and people with serious mental illness, who have a much higher risk of developing a number of chronic diseases. Poor access to health care and supports, stigma and the impact of poverty all contribute to people not engaging with the system, resulting in a serious decline in physical and mental health. A feature article in CrossCurrents, “Mind the Body,” also looks beyond lifestyle factors to explore the high mortality rates among people with mental illness. The authors point to several factors, including medication side-effects, underdiagnosis of physical illnesses among people with severe mental illness and inadequate treatment of physical health problems for people with mental illnesses.
Network explores the social determinants of health and mental health in “One More Thing on Their Plates.” Such things as income, racialization, social exclusion and disability play an important role in the development of chronic disease and must also play a key role in how we approach chronic disease prevention and management. Three other articles in the issue look at specific social determinants relating to mental health and chronic disease. “Feed the Body, Feed the Mind” and “The Stress of Food Bank Foods” focus on the growing crisis of food insecurity in Ontario and what we should be doing about it, and “Restoring Pride, Restoring Well-Being” explores Aboriginal diabetes prevention and management needs in the province.
Both magazines profile the Minding Our Bodies project, an initiative of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario, in partnership with the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, Nutrition Resource Centre, YMCA and York University Faculty of Health. The project helps community mental health organizations develop evidence-based, sustainable physical activity and healthy eating programs for their clients and communities. The articles highlight some of the successes and lessons learned from the first two years of the Minding Our Bodies project.
In Network, “Going to the Experts” and “Why Peer Support Is Like a Box of Chocolates” look at peer support respectively as a method for chronic disease self-management support and as a conduit for personal growth and recovery. Meanwhile, in his CrossCurrents editorial, Ontario Peer Development Initiative advocacy and policy co-ordinator Raymond Cheng deconstructs the term “chronic disease management” and looks at it through a recovery lens, pointing out the opportunities for mental health peer supporters to be involved in this work.
CrossCurrents‘ “Weighing in on Metabolic Monitoring” profiles the Mental Health and Metabolism Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, which integrates the care of CAMH clients’ physical and mental health. Network looks at service providers in the community mental health field who have developed similar programming at the local level. CrossCurrents also explores the links between depression and heart disease, and how depression is underdiagnosed and ineffectively treated in cardiac patients.
In a feature interview in CrossCurrents, Dr. Guy Faulkner, associate professor in the Faculty of Physical Education and Health at the University of Toronto, discusses his research on obesogenic environments and how psychiatric hospitals can contribute to improving their patients’ physical health. Network’s Research Snapshot section looks at new research on obesity and mental illness.
See “Craving Change: Rethinking Our Approach to Chronic Disease,”Network, Fall 2010, available at www.ontario.cmha.ca/network.
See also “Chronic Disease Prevention and Management,” CrossCurrents, Autumn 2010, available at www.camhcrosscurrents.net.