Intersectional Policy Analysis of Self-Directed Mental Health Care in Canada

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Abstract

Objective: Recovery from mental illness is influenced by one’s social location along multiple dimensions of identity, such as race, class, gender, age, and ability, and by how these social locations are expressed through structural and institutional barriers. This project was developed using an intersectional policy analysis framework designed to promote equity across identity locations–called the multistrand method–to examine the potential use of self-directed care financing approaches in the Canadian mental health system. Method: A panel of 16 diverse stakeholders came together 4 times at structured 6-hr meetings to examine the evidence for self-directed care and explore its application in the Canadian context. Telephone interviews with evidence panel members were conducted to assess their perceptions of the group process and outcomes. Results: Our analysis revealed ways that intersecting strand locations might differentially influence the degree of choice and recovery experienced by self-directed care participants. Individualized resource allocation, draining financial resources from ethnically specific services, unevenness in acceptance of the recovery orientation, and paucity of service options in different geographical regions were identified as contexts in which self-directed care policies could promote inequity. However, greater peer involvement in the model’s implementation, use of indigenous community supports, purchase of material goods by economically disenfranchised persons, and access to services from ethnically diverse clinicians in the private sector were identified as equity-promoting model features. Conclusion and Implications for Practice: By couching their analysis at the level of unique socially-situated perspectives, the group developed detailed policy recommendations and insights into both the potential and limitations of self-directed care. The knowledge gained from our project can be used to develop uniquely Canadian self-directed care models tailored to promote recovery through empowerment and self-determination across intersecting identity strand locations.

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