People with mental health disabilities often face socio-economic barriers when accessing goods or services. Examples of these barriers can include the cost of programs or services, requirements for identification documents (particularly an issues for people with serious mental health disabilities who also experience homelessness), and transportation issues. These barriers can have a negative mental health impact, particularly when the sought after services or goods are important for mental health.
For example, many individuals engage in physical activity programs to promote mental health. The costs associated with recreation programs and equipment can be prohibitive for people with serious mental health disabilities. For this reason, many community-based recreation programs waive costs for lower-income individuals or families or offer free programming in lower-income neighbourhoods.
Another example can be found in the provincial elections process. Read our story about making Ontario elections more accessible to people with mental health disabilities.
Did You Know?
Socio-economic factors or social determinants of health play a big role in shaping our day to day lives, including our health and mental health. These conditions include education, early life experiences, employment and working conditions, gender, race, housing, income and many other factors. Not only do these factors impact on our everyday experiences, but they also can contribute to poor mental health. Due to discrimination, stigma and attitudinal barriers, people with mental health disabilities may be more likely to experience socio-economic barriers.
Use tools like the Health Equity Impact Assessment (HEIA) tool to identify and remove socio-economic barriers that people with mental health disabilities may face. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care developed the HEIA tool to enable organizations to identify the impacts of their program or policy decisions on different groups of people, including people with disabilities. Strategies for overcoming barriers identified for people with mental health disabilities could include flexible work hours, ensuring that program or service locations are accessible by public transit or reimbursing public transit costs, or providing free water, coffee or light snacks on site. To save costs and learn more, it can be helpful to partner with other organizations that are already providing these supports.
Resource: To learn more about the socio-economic factors that impact on health (also known as the social determinants of health), watch this video called Making the Connections from the Wellesley Institute.