Equity,                 & Inclusion at Jack.org 

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Our role in equity-seeking work.

Jack.org is dedicated to championing equity and inclusion within our team, and across the vibrant network of young leaders and communities who share our mission. 

We believe in leading by example, and we will work to amplify diverse voices and perspectives as we continue our equity, diversity and inclusion journey with a focus on personal stories and youth-centered approaches that create a sense of belonging.

 
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Equity Position Statements

Equity and its intersection with mental health

Jack.org believes that:

We are first and foremost an upstream mental health organization, whose purpose is to support youth mental health education and stigma reduction in order to improve help seeking behaviours. Our focus is and will remain providing innovative mental health education and resources to all young people in Canada.

When mental health work is undertaken without understanding and acknowledging the differences that exist between people's experiences, it can end up doing unintentional harm to the people and communities the work is seeking to support. 

One of the many forms systemic oppression takes is a persistent lack of access to the education, opportunities, resources, and safety nets that people with institutional power rely on. This marginalization can harm people across generations, and is most often rooted in social, economic, and political factors, often referred to as the social determinants of health.

Our goal of empowering young leaders to revolutionize youth mental health in Canada is a vital one, and pursuing it with an equity lens is essential. As we work, we will listen to the young leaders we're supporting to ensure our movement remains youth-centred and informed by diverse perspectives. 

We may not always be equipped as an organization to support equity-seeking communities directly ourselves, but that we are committed to supporting other community groups dedicated to serving specific equity-seeking communities to lift up, support, and amplify their work by sharing our knowledge, resources, and our platform. 

As we work to be open to all matters of equity, we must not stray from our main focus of providing innovative mental health education and resources to all young people in Canada.

While we exist to support the mental health of all young people in Canada, we must be especially conscious of the fact that certain populations are at greater risk of mental health struggle, and therefore our work must intentionally address these populations’ needs as part of our overall mental health work.

The source of many equity issues are caused by systemic oppression, particularly where oppression targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and/or socioeconomic status.

Systemic oppression touches every corner of Canada, negatively affecting young people and their communities regardless of their region. 

As we continue to do the work of creating more equitable mental health in our society through our work, we will face our own biases while also remembering that we approach this change from various positions of privilege and have an opportunity to “do the most good” for youth mental health in Canada by supporting the work of equity-seeking groups. 

Our work in creating equitable mental health for all young people in Canada will be ever-evolving. We will reflect on critical feedback and are committed to seeking diverse perspectives to continue to advance our approach.

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Equity  Framework

Jack.org has adopted a framework recognizing four clear intersections between equity and mental health. Understanding this complex and vital relationship is an important first step to comprehending the mental health obstacles that many young people face in Canada today. Our approach is informed and inspired by the CMHA and other leading Canadian mental health organizations (Source: Canadian Mental Health Association - Ontario). 

 

  1. Equity and mental health are interlinked
     
    • Many people face trauma resulting from inequity and mental health issues at the same time, with each challenge often worsening the other.  

    • This harmful interaction makes equitable mental health work more complicated – and more essential – at all levels, from experiences at the individual level, to across the mental health system as a whole.
       

  2. Equity directly impacts mental health
     
    • Marginalization, particularly where it impacts access to care, has a clear and negative effect on the mental health of people living in Canada. 

    • Because of this, groups with decreased access to the social determinants of health have a greater chance of living with negative mental health outcomes and mental illness. 

    • Lack of access to appropriate mental health education and services also prevents those who are struggling from receiving the help they need. 
       

  3. Mental health directly impacts equity
     
    • Mental health struggle itself can lead to marginalization for many people who experience it. 

    • The stigmatization of mental illness and addictions creates its own challenges, compounding the barriers that already exist based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic status.
       

  4. Certain populations in Canada feel these effects acutely
     
    • In particular, people who have experienced mental health struggle and addictions, people experiencing marginalization, and those who have experienced both, are disproportionately affected. 
       

Three social determinants that have an outsized protective factor on mental health are: 
 

  1. Freedom from violence, harassment, and discrimination 

  2. Social inclusion

  3. Economic security 

 

In pursuit of our mission, Jack.org will continue to work towards equitable mental health for all youth in Canada while being intentional in addressing the needs of individuals and communities that do not benefit from these protective factors.

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Defining  Key  Concepts

(Sources: Canadian Mental Health Association - Ontario & National Equity Project, 2021)

Inequities can be understood as the social, economic, and political marginalization (disadvantage or exclusion) that some groups face in society.

 

 

Equity is a way to address marginalization. In contrast to equality, which seeks the same treatment for all individuals, an equity-based approach recognizes that different actions are required to achieve similar outcomes for different individuals or groups due to the uneven distribution of power, wealth and other resources in society. 

Health inequities are systemic, avoidable, and unfair differences in health outcomes, a symptom of broader inequities in society.

Racialized is a term that has replaced the outdated and often inaccurate terms “racial minority,” “visible minority,” “person of colour” or “non-White.” This term acknowledges race as a social construct. 

Priviledge is unearned power, benefits, advantages, access and/or opportunities that exist for members of the dominant group(s) in society. It can also refer to the relative priviledge of one group compared to another.

Systemic oppression exists at an institutional and structural level, intentionally disadvantaging groups of people based on their identity while advantaging members of that culture's dominant group.

 

From an equity perspective, marginalization is rooted in histories of differential access to power in society (such as racism, poverty, and the stigma associated with mental health issues) and maintained by ongoing social, economic, and political factors which can be called the social determinants of health.

In Canada, the social determinants of health include (source: Mikkonen and Raphael):

  • Indigenous/Aboriginal status 

  • Disability 

  • Early life experiences 

  • Access to education 

  • Employment status and working conditions 

  • Food insecurity 

  • Access to health services 

  • Geography (rural/northern regions) 

  • Gender and gender identity 

  • Housing 

  • Immigration status or experience (country of origin status or citizenship)

  • Income and income distribution 

  • Interaction with the justice system 

  • Race 

  • Sexual orientation 

  • Social exclusion, and 

  • Access to a social safety net

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Canadian Mental Health Association - Ontario. “Advancing Equity - Understanding Key Concepts.” Advancing      Equity - Understanding Key Concepts, Canadian Mental Health Association - Ontario, 2014, https://ontario.cmha.ca/wp-content/files/2014/05/Advancing-Equity-In-Mental-Health-Final1.pdf. Accessed 15 05 2021.

 

Mikkonen, Juha, and Dennis Raphael. “Social Determinants of Health - The Canadian Facts.” Social Determinants of Health - The Canadian Facts, York University, 2010, https://www.thecanadianfacts.org/The_Canadian_Facts.pdf. Accessed 16 05 2021.

 

National Equity Project. (2021, July 27). The Lens of Systemic Oppression. Retrieved from National Equity Project: https://www.nationalequityproject.org/frameworks/lens-of-systemic-oppression