Six NCCs join forces, respond to public health needs
What do we know about promoting mental health for children and youth at the population level? And what is the Public Health role in this work? Staff from across the six National Collaborating Centres for Public Health (NCCs) have been asking these questions in response to gaps identified by the public health community.
Population mental health is a known priority, and there is widespread agreement that a critical population health outcome needs to be achieved. However, when asked about this topic, public health staff said that their mandate was not clear, and that they did not have enough resources to increase their knowledge and develop their skills.
In response, the NCCs mobilized a collaborative project team, choosing to focus on children and youth. A population health approach was applied throughout. The project was framed around concepts of well-being, integrating the determinants of positive mental health at individual, family, community, and societal levels. The resulting collection includes resources that examine public health topics through multiple equity lenses, considering positions of Indigeneity, gender and socio-economic status.
Lesley Dyck, Project Coordinator, reflected on the importance of this work:
“We need to help younger Canadians flourish, not just survive. To have a population impact, mental health promotion needs to influence the breadth of public health domains and disciplines. And, public health will need to support the development of multi-level, multi-component and intersectoral policies, programs and practices.”
Drawing on knowledge from all six NCCs
Pascale Mantoura helped lay the foundation for this collective project through earlier work on population mental health at the NCC for Healthy Public Policy. Reflecting on expanding the project to all six NCCs, she commented:
“The needs assessment the NCCs conducted with public health suggested that it was important for all six centres to recognize this topic as significant. In response, we brought our diverse expertise together. The resulting work translates knowledge that builds public health capacity for population mental health promotion for children and youth.”
Throughout the project, each NCC examined the evidence for a specific public health topic in relation to population mental health promotion for children and youth. The centres can now offer the public health community a suite of products, including five papers on the following topics:
- the environment (built, natural and social);
- infectious diseases;
- chronic diseases;
- healthy public policy;
- Indigenous health.
Each paper focuses on key risk and protective factors, and provides examples of interventions and roles for public health, as well as resources to support public health practice.
The collection also includes a database with resources from across the project; links to documents and related organizations. The NCCs prioritized Canadian sources to make it easy for public health practitioners to find what they need.
Building on existing work and continuing the conversation
The next step will include a national forum to continue the conversation and build the public health network necessary to strengthen this work across Canada.
Visit our project page on population mental health to download the complete collection.
Join us at one of our upcoming conference presentations:
- Waypoint Mental Health Conference in Barrie, ON: On May 16, 2017, project team member Claire Howarth will present as part of an oral paper session.
- Public Health 2017 Conference in Halifax, NS: On June 6, 2017, project team members Lesley Dyck and Margaret-Howarth Brockman will facilitate Making the case: population mental health promotion for youth as an essential focus for public health practice, a dynamic conversation featuring panelists:
- Margaret Barry, PhD; Professor of Health Promotion and Public Health, National University of Ireland Galway
- Jacqueline Gahagan, PhD; Interim Director & Interim Assistant Dean, Faculty of Health Professions, Dalhousie University
- Madina Sutton, BScN Candidate, Dalhousie University; Youth Council Member, Mental Health Commission of Canada
- Margaret Robinson, PhD; Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology & Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University
Stay tuned to nccph.ca for updates, and sign up for news from the six NCCs at the bottom of this page.
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