presentation - Canadian Public Health Association

Lesley A. Tarasoff, MA
PhD Candidate, Social & Behavioural Health Sciences
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
Doctoral Student Research Trainee
Schizophrenia Program, Centre for Addiction & Mental Health
Canadian Public Health Association Conference – May 29, 2014
Research Team: Sean Kidd (PI), Tyler Frederick, Gursharan
Steering Committee: Kwame McKenzie, Steve Lurie, Larry
Davidson, David Morris, Janet Mawhinney, Susan Pigott, Tatum
Lucy Costa and the Empowerment Council Advisory Committee
Summer students and volunteers
Funded by the Ontario Mental Health Foundation
To consider the role of food
in the lives of low-income
people with schizophrenia
in an urban setting, and in
turn, what meanings of food
and food access suggest
about how we understand
“food insecurity” and
“community integration”
Purposeful, stratified
 Neighbourhood, ethnicity,
 3 meetings over 8-10
Interviews, participatory
mapping, walking tours,
31 participants residing primarily in the
neighbourhoods of Moss Park, Regent Park,
and Parkdale
 Age: Mean = 45; Min. = 28; Max. = 62; SD = 10.9
 Gender: 16 female (51.6%); 15 male (48.4%)
 Ethnicity: 1 Latin American (3.2%); 9 African/African-
Caribbean (29%); 7 South Asian/Middle Eastern (22.6%); 6
East Asian/Southeast Asian (19.4%); 8 White
European/White Canadian (25.8%)
 Sexual Orientation: All identified as heterosexual (100%)
 Marital Status: 5 in dating relationship or married (16%)
 Immigration Status: 19 first generation immigrants (61%)
 Employment Status: 17 not in the labour force (not working, not
looking) (54.8%)
 Housing Type: 16 live alone in supported/subsidized housing
(51.6%); 9 live in supported/subsidized housing with others
 Age of diagnosis ranged from youth/teen to late 50s
 Number of hospitalizations ranged from 0 to 30
▪ A few participants were hospitalized during the study
(between sessions)
Community participation is a dynamic process,
shaped by illness and non-illness associated
social relationships and spaces, self-concept,
and the resources available to a person
Food as it relates to social relationships and
 Limits the types of relationships you can have (e.g.,
 The types of spaces one (can) frequent (e.g., meal
programs (to eat and/or volunteer at), restaurants)
is limited
▪ “…I would go to parties, I would go to restaurants, I
would do fun things man, I would shop, I would buy my
girl stuff…”
Food as it relates to self-concept
 “I’ll be glad when I get home. That way I can open the fridge and
they [workers] close the fridge, [with a] lock, you know, they close
the fridge, the cupboards, everything and so you can’t get any
food. You only get served dinner 4:30. Seven o’clock is tea and
one cookie. And she [worker] watches how many cookies you
have, only one cookie each person. It’s hard.”
 “I used to do the cooking and now I don’t do any cooking because
the house they do the cooking.”
 “…That’s why I didn’t want to get food bank. If you get the food
bank it means you have no way to get food. The bottom of the
society, you get the food bank.”
Food as it relates to available resources
 “I try not to go there because I don’t want to like I don’t
want to go there to eat because I’m still hungry when I
leave and I want seconds.”
 “No, I don’t get three meals
there. I just get… If I’m lucky I
get breakfast and then I get
maybe a hotdog or two for
lunch. And supper, maybe a can
of stew or something. But it’s not
really a meal, the way it’s
supposed to be.”
The role of food in the lives of low-income people
with schizophrenia reveals a lot about various
systems, how we think about “food insecurity” and
the weakness/limits of “community integration” as
a recovery goal
Implications beyond this population
 Poverty as a social determinant of (mental) health;
“poverty is the main issue that must be addressed to
improve the health of Canadians and eliminate health
inequities” (
Contact Information: [email protected]

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