Blog

Welcome to HC Link's blog! Our blog will provide you with useful information on healthy community topics, news, and resources, as well as information on HC Link’s events, activities, and resources. Our bloggers include HC Link staff and consultants, as well as our partnering organizations, clients, and experts in the health promotion field.

Please note: opinions in posts are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of HC Link or our funder.

We look forward to engaging in thought-provoking conversation with you!

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Helpful Resources on Health Equity

Submitted by Health Nexus and the CAMH Resource Centre

Health Promotion in Ethnocultural Communities

 

CultureCounts

 

Culture Counts: A Roadmap to Health Promotion 

If you are thinking about starting a health promotion initiative in mental health and substance use for particular ethnocultural communities, Culture Counts: A Roadmap to Health Promotion can help. Culture Counts is a guide developed to help organizations and agencies break down the barriers between ethnocultural communities and effective health promotion in mental health and substance use. The guide is the outcome of the Best Practices in Community Education in Mental Health and Addiction with Ethnoracial/Ethnoculutral Communities Project, a provincial partnership between the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and seven community organizations. The Culture Counts guide, available in online and PDF versions, has been rereleased with updated links to online resources.

This guide outlines the basic steps and background to culturally competent health promotion in mental health and substance use but can be applied to almost any type of health promotion initiative aimed at ethnocultural communities. These basic steps include: breaking down barriers; working with community partners; gathering and analyzing information; planning the initiative, translating and cultural adaptation; putting the plan to work; and follow-up.

Cultural competence refers to the "capacity of an organization or individual to appreciate diversity, and to adapt to and work with people of different cultures, while ensuring everyone is treated equally.i" Improving health outcomes and reducing disparities in mental health and substance use health promotion initiatives and services for ethnocultural communities is of particular importance since increased rates of illnesses, poorer access to care and care outcomes and poorer satisfaction with services have been reported amongst immigrant, refugee, ethnocultural and racialized groups in Canadaii.

*To help support Healthy Communities audiences develop health promotion initiatives in mental health and substance use with ethnocultural communities, the CAMH Resource Centre is offering a complimentary hard copy of Culture Counts: A Roadmap to Health Promotion. Please see below for detailsiii.

 

Reduce Racialized Health Inequities

Health Nexus has developed two resources focused on building capacity to reduce health inequities among communities that experience racism in Ontario:

LitReview

 

Health Equity and Racialized Groups: A Literature Review

The Literature Review presents a framework for understanding and action on racialized health disparities that will be welcomed by those who are working to reduce health inequities.

It provides an overview of the topic, a synthesis of our knowledge to date on it, a brief history of how it has been addressed in Ontario, and examples of what is meant by taking an anti-racist approach to health promotion.

 

 

 

 

ResourceGuide

 

Addressing Health Inequalities for Racialized Communities: Resource Guide

This Resource Guide is a tool to support the capacity and effectiveness of those who are engaged in health promotion to reduce racialized health inequities.

Physical activity, mental health promotion, healthy eating/food security are examples of entry points to address racialized health inequities, and direct attention to the broader, underlying causes that need to be addressed.

 

 

 

 


iKobus-Matthews, M, Agic, B, Tate, M. (2012). Culture Counts: A Roadmap to Health Promotion.  A Guide to Best Practices for Developing Health Promotion Initiatives in Mental health and Substance Use with Ethnocultural Communities. Toronto: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

iiHansson E, Tuck A, Lurie S and McKenzie K, for the Task Group of the Services Systems Advisory Committee, Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2010). Improving mental health services for immigrant, refugee, ethno-cultural and racialized groups: Issues and options for service improvement

iiiTo receive a complimentary hard copy of Culture Counts, please send an email to resources[at]ohcc-ccso[dot ca] with the subject line: "Culture Counts". Please note that this offer is only available to those working in Ontario. Due to limited quantities, this offer is available on a first-come-first-serve basis with a limit of one complimentary hard copy per organization. Please include the following information in the body of your email: 1. Name; 2. Organization; 3. Work address, phone number and email address.

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Celebrating Our Collective Successes: Release of HC Link's Inaugural Report

HC Link is thrilled to release our Inaugural Report! HC Link has had an incredible year of learning and growth, and we are proud to share some of our accomplishments with you.

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By working together with organizations across Ontario we have helped create healthy, vibrant communities that are engaged and passionate about the factors that contribute to their wellbeing. Our report contains a sampling of stories from some of the community organizations and partnerships with whom we've had the pleasure to work with this last year. Community story highlights include:

- Supporting the creation of an active transportation plan for the communities of Port Severn, Honey Harbour, and MacTier;

- Engaging Francophone community leaders in the creation and implementation of an action plan to support elderly-friendly villages in West Nipissing and Sudbury East;

- Providing a workshop to introduce a comprehensive approach to mental health and substance abuse providers in Sioux Lookout; and

- Guiding the design of a community-based planning process to connect community members from a wide range of sectors in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville.

QUOTE

 

We are proud that our services are well-received and that the demand for our expertise is steadily growing. To read other client testimonials, and learn more about HC Link's work, please download the report.

For more information:

- browse HCLinkOntario.ca;

- email us at us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or

- call us 416-847-1575 or 1-855-847-1575.

 

 

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Webinar Recap: How to Engage Francophones: when you don't speak French!

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

Supporting our clients in engaging their Francophone communities is an area that HC Link has been working in for the past several years. We've delivered several webinars and produced many resources – in both languages – on the topic. But this week, Estelle Duchon and I delivered a webinar with a slightly different spin: how do you engage Francophones in your community work when you don't speak the language?

For many people working in the areas of community-based planning, health promotion and healthy communities, we want to fully engage and work with all of the people who live, work and play in our community. When it comes to working with the Francophone community many feel that this can only be done if we are fluent in French. In our 90 minute webinar, Estelle laid out three easy steps to engage Francophones regardless of your French capacity.

Step One: Examine Your Motives: be very clear about the purpose and objectives for your engagement strategy, and also have a plan in place for what you will do with the results. The Francophone community has, in many cases, been consulted often with sometimes invisible results. By properly identifying what you want to accomplish you'll be able to put the appropriate plans in place. You'll also be able to clearly communicate what you are doing, why, and what will happen as result of participation. In this way, you'll be able to manage expectations.

Step Two: Understand Francophone Contexts in Ontario, your community and your organization: Before beginning an engagement strategy with Francophone communities (or any community for that matter) it's critical to understand the history and contexts of that community. For instance one of our participants remarked that she didn't realize that many Francophones in Ontario are new Canadians from 29 of the world's countries that speak French. This can have huge implications regarding culture and beliefs. It's also important to investigate the history of your organization's past engagement strategies (if any) as these can colour (positively or negatively) future participant's expectations.

Step Three: Find people to work with: For many of us who don't have the capacity or comfort to work in French, this step is really key. Are there colleugues in your organization or networks that have the capacity to liaise with communities in French? Also investigate existing networks and initiatives that you could partner with. Take the time to establish a trust relationship with new partners as well as with the communities themselves.

We had terrific audience participation in this webinar thanks to HC Link's new webinar platform which includes a chat board. In fact, 78% of evaluation respondents rated opportunities for participation as excellent! Participants shared ideas for engaging Francophones and also shared what their organizations are doing to boost French capacity in the workforce. Unfortunately due to some technical challenges we weren't able to record the webinar, but the slides have been posted for you on our website.

 This blog post just gives you a smattering of the information that Estelle and I presented – there is lots more out there, including in these resources:

Working Together with Francophones: Understanding the Context and Promising Practices

Working Together with Francophones @ a Glance Part 1: Understanding the Context

Working Together with Francophones @ a Glance Part 2: Legislation and Institutional Support

Community Engagement @ a Glance

Have you experienced successes or challenges in engaging Francophone communities in your work? Please leave us a comment and tell us about it!

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Fairness in Policy

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the prestigious Hastings Lecture, named for Toronto's first Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Charles Hastings. The event was moderated by the current Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, who introduced Sir Michael Marmot as a "health equity rockstar." The title is a fair for the man who is currently Director of the Institute of Health Equity and a Professor in Epidemiology at University College, London, UK. Sir Marmot is best known for his work on the Whitehall II study, as well as leading the World Health Organization's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. Like the rest of the 350-person crowd I sat captivated, only breaking to laugh at Sir Marmot's well-delivered jokes – or at the panel's comments on local politics.

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Sir Marmot opened with the bold statement that "social injustice is killing on a grand scale." He asserted that a society's success can be judged by the health of its population. Governments, however, tend to focus on only lowest end of the gradient in society, even though health inequality affects all of us. A health system for the poor is a poor health system. Sir Marmot stressed that while inequality exists on a national level, it can also be seen within the same city. In Glasgow, the life expectancy differs by as much as 28 years in different neighbourhoods. In the small town of Lenzie, the average male life expectancy is 82. In the district of Calton, the male life expectancy is only 54 years of age.

To counter this imbalance, Sir Marmot suggested that all ministers operate as ministers of health - as is the practise in Norway, where health performs as a social accountant. Governments should focus on policies which increase the standard of living for all:

  1. Give every child the best start in life.
  2. Enable all children, young people and adults to maximise their capabilities and have control over their lives.
  3. Create fair employment and good work for all. (Marmot shared some disturbing statistics about unemployment and the damaging effects of health – and on economics)
  4. Ensure healthy standard of living for all.
  5. Create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities.
  6. Strengthen the role and impact of ill health prevention.

Individuals can only be responsible (and be held responsible) when they have the conditions to do so. Fair policies create the necessary conditions. Fairness should sit at the very core of health policies. Ever the evidence-based optimist, Sir Marmot closed his lecture with words of encouragement, "Dream of a world where social justice is taken seriously. Then take the pragmatic steps necessary to achieve it."

Following the inspirational lecture, Sir Marmot was joined in discussion by Dr. Kwame McKenzie and Dr. Charles Pascal. Dr. McKenzie, the director of the Canada Institutes of Health Research Social Aetiology of Mental Illness Training Centre and a senior scientist of Social Equity and Health Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, used John David Hulchanski's theory of the three Torontos to draw local relevance to Marmots remarks. Dr. Pascal, a professor of Human Development and Applied Psychology at OISE/University of Toronto, bemoaned short term thinking about policy, and advocated for policies with "teeth."

 

Resources:

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Good Ideas for Making Policy Succeed

Last Thursday, I joined roughly 200 policy wonks during a "lunch and learn" event with the Maytree Foundation's Five Good Ideas series. For each session, Maytree invites a different expert to share five practical ideas, and to discuss how these thoughts can be put into action. Sherri Torjman, vice-president of the Caledon Institute, presented the final session in the current series.

Sherri, drawing on her background in poverty eradication and disability issues, shared that the purpose of policy work is to improve the quality of life for all citizens. Policy work aims to effect change, in the public interest. Policy work promotes the inclusion of those who are under-represented in a community.

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Policy development is a critical area for HC Link's clients. Last year, approximately 10% of our consultations concentrated on policy development. Even consultations that do not focus on policy work often have a small policy component.

I was reminded of some of HC Link's recent work as Sherri shared her thoughts. Earlier this year, HC Link worked closely with an elderly-friendly village initiative, which was having difficulty implementing an action plan that was developed several years prior. The village's aim is to improve the quality of life for elderly citizens by providing an inclusive and secure environment that encourages a vibrant and enriching life. HC Link was able to provide training sessions, which addressed motivation of volunteers in the development of community projects, how to recruit volunteers, how to access resources, and how to influence health promotion policies.

Sherri's good ideas hold true not only for policy work, but community work in general, and the principles can (and have been) applied to HC Link initiatives.

1. Trust your knowledge. In this case, our consultant Estelle Duchon's expertise in engaging Francophone communities was extremely valuable in revealing the community leaders' needs.

2. Dream big. Big ideas mean big results. As a partner mused "Crazy ideas are ideas that are destabilizing at first, but end up making a difference. They serve as a trigger in the community."

3. Go the extra mile. Implementing an action plan seemed particularly challenging to the involved committees. In order to ensure progress, they contacted HC Link for assistance.

4. Hold that thought. Timing is essential. Sometimes it's worth waiting for a ripe opportunity. In this case, the community was able to implement an action plan after several training sessions which equipped them with the right knowledge and tools for action.

5. Find your Karasima. Find inspiration in your work. In Sherri's case, it was a comment from Karasima, a women on crutches, which validated Sherri's work. In Noëlville and Verner, it meant understanding that addressing seniors concerns also meant addressing the needs of other vulnerable populations, such as children and people with disabilities.

HC Link has delivered webinars and created educational resources involving policy development. We also have a resource bank with a wide variety of relevant readings.

Selected resources include:

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