Presentation - Canadian Public Health Association

Neoliberalism’s Impacts on
Mental Health(care) for
Women Survivors of Intimate
Partner Violence in Canada
CPHA Conference Presentation
Josey Ross
MA Candidate, Health Policy and Equity
York University
 At least 1 in 4 Women in Canada will experience intimate
partner or sexualized violence in her lifetime (McInturff, 2013).
 Victims of IPV experience short- and long-term impacts
ranging from injuries and mental health problems to lost
education opportunities and poverty (McInturff, 2013).
 IPV associated with PTSD, depression, eating disorders,
personality disorders and suicidality (WHO, 2013; Morrow, 2002,
p 18)
 Funding cutbacks and narrowing mandates of anti-violence
and mental healthcare services for survivors (Collier, 2009;
Morrow, 2002)
Why This Topic?
 Literature exists on:
IPV and mental health
Neoliberalism and public policy
Neoliberalization of anti-violence work
Neoliberalization of mental healthcare
Gendered nature of mental healthcare
 No literature exists examining impacts of neoliberal
policymaking on mental health of women survivors of
intimate partner violence
Impacts of Violence in
 Estimated $9 billion annually (McInturff, 2013)
 Higher healthcare utilization of IPV survivors than
general population (Varcoe et al., 2001)
 Mental health impacts (BCMOH, 2012)
 Differential rates of violence experienced by women
experiencing multiple sites of marginalization (BCMOH,
What is Neoliberalism?
 “A deliberate push for an emphasis on individualism,
and on consumption as a source of identity and a
vehicle for social participation” (Coulter, 2009, p. 26)
 “A movement away from a social state and
redistributive policies towards government that focuses
less on social programs…and more on optimizing
conditions for market activity and capital accumulation”
(Coulter, 2009, p. 26)
Neoliberalism and Public
 Privatization of services (Coulter, 2009)
 Delisting of services (Coulter, 2009)
 Public-private partnership arrangements (Coulter,
 Promotion and celebration of volunteerism, charity, or
fundraising as a substitution for public investment
(Coulter, 2009)
Barriers to Leaving
 Isolation, institutional failure, systemic barriers (Moe,
 Substance abuse issues, lack of safe housing, lack of
transportation (Zweig, Schlicter, and Burt, 2002)
 Fear of retaliation and stalking (Alabama Coalition,
 Cuts to social assistance, disability pensions, EI, public
housing (Braedley, 2007)
Neoliberalization of AntiViolence Work
 Conservative and Liberal governments cut funding to
anti-violence programs (Collier, 2009)
 Dismantling of programs fighting for women’s equality
(Beres, et al., 2009)
 Discursive reconfiguration of IPV as private, random,
and individual (Beres, et al., 2009)
 Dominance of managerialist outcome measures
(McDonald, 2005)
Applying a Gendered Lens to
Mental Healthcare
 Women’s mental health impacted and shaped by social
inequities (Morrow and Chappell, 1999)
 Certain types of mental health issues linked to IPV
(Morrow and Chappell, 1999)
 Mainstreaming (Humphreys, 2008)
Neoliberalization of Mental
 Shift from federal to provincial responsibility (Carney,
 Reliance on private sector providers and funding
(Carney, 2000)
 Adaption of corporate management practices
(Teghtsoonian, 2009)
 Focus on measurable outcomes (Morrow, 2002)
Impacts of Neoliberalism on
Survivors of IPV
 No existing literature
 Increased barriers to leaving abusive relationship
 Cuts to women’s services
 Narrowly-focused mental health services
 Neoliberal policies have had deleterious affects on:
Woman-serving agencies
Mental healthcare provision and access
Social determinants of mental health
Women survivors of IPV
 Next steps:
 Quantitative and qualitative research examining further
the impacts of neoliberalism on women survivors of IPV
living with mental health problems
 Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (No date given). Barriers to
leaving. Retrieved from
 British Columbia. Ministry of Health. Healthy Women, Children and Youth
Secretariat. (2012) A framework for addressing violence against women in
relationships: A supplement to the public health core program on prevention of
violence, abuse and neglect. Retrieved from Ministry of Health website:
 Beres, M.A., Crow, B. & Gotell, L. (2009). The perils of institutionalization in
neoliberal times: Results of a national survey of Canadian sexual assault and
rape crisis centres. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 34(1): 135-163.
 Braedley, S. (2007). “Accidental” health care: Masculinity and neoliberalism at
work. In Braedley, S. & Luxton, M. (ed) Neoliberalism and everyday life.
Montreal: MQUP.
 Carney, T. (2008). The mental health service crisis of neoliberalism—An
antipodean perspective. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 31: 101115.
References Cont’d
Collier, C. (2009). Violence against women or violence against ‘people’? Assessing the
impact of neoliberalism and post-neoliberalism on anti-violence policy in Ontario and
British Columbia. In Alexandra Dobrowolsky (ed.), Women and Public Policy in Canada
Today: Neoliberalism and After? Toronto: Oxford University Press.
Coulter, K. (2009). Women, poverty policy, and the production of neoliberal politics in
Ontario, Canada. Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 30(1): 23-45. DOI:
Humphreys, C. (2008). Responding to the individual trauma of domestic violence:
Challenges for mental health professionals. Social Work in Mental Health 7 (1-3): 186203. doi:10.1080/15332980802072546
McDonald, J. (2005). Neo-liberalism and the pathologising of public issues: The
displacement of feminist service models in domestic violence support services.
Australian Social Work, 58(3): 275-284. doi:
McInturff, K. (2013). The gap in the gender gap: Violence against women in Canada.
Retrieved from Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives website:
Moe, A. M. (2007). Silenced voices and structured survival: Battered women’s help
seeking. Violence Against Women 13(7): 676-699.
References Cont’d
Morrow, M. (2002). Violence and trauma in the lives of women with serious mental
illness: Current practices in service provision in British Columbia. Retrieved from British
Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health website:
Morrow, M. and Chappell, M. (1999). Hearing women’s voices: Mental health care for
women. Retrieved from British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health
Teghtsoonian, K. (2009). Depression and mental health in neoliberal times: A critical
analysis of policy and discourse. Social Science & Medicine 69: 28-35.
Varcoe, C., Hankivsky, O., Ford-Gilboe, M., Wuest, J., Wilk, P., Hammerton, J. &
Campbell, J. (2011). Attributing selected costs to intimate partner violence in a sample of
women who have left abusive partners: A social determinants of health approach.
Canadian Public Policy: 37(3): 359-380.
World Health Organization. (2013). Violence Against Women. Retrieved from:
Zweig, J. M., Schlichter, K. A., & Burt, M. R. (2002). Assisting women victims of violence
who experience multiple barriers to services. Violence Against Women 8(2): 162-180.
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