Nursing Publications


The Impact of Deinstitutionalizing Psychiatric Services on the Accessing of Mental Health Services by People with Higher Levels of Psychological Distress

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Publication Date

Spring 2006


Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health





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Even though the policy of deinstitutionalization of mental health services purports to improve access to community-based services, there is a paucity of research that evaluates the impact of this policy on the general community. The research in this study builds on an empirical analysis of 40 years of the process of deinstitutionalization of mental health services in Canada (Sealy & Whitehead, 2004). An experimental design is simulated through the use of a derived construct-earlier vs. later deinstitutionalization-in order to test whether the policy of deinstitutionalization has achieved the goal of improving the accessing of mental health services by people with increased levels of psychological distress, while taking into consideration various social correlates. Data about the accessing of mental health services were obtained in the National Population Health Survey (Statistics Canada, 1996, 2001). Results identify that provinces that implemented deinstitutionalization earlier show improved access of community mental health services and fewer social inequalities of access. Nevertheless, the majority of people who have higher levels of psychological distress have not accessed mental health services.