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Canadian community mental health workers’ perceived priorities for supportive housing services in northern and rural contexts

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A relationship between mental health and supportive housing has been established, yet there exist enduring challenges in meeting the supportive housing needs of people with severe mental health problems. Furthermore, not all stakeholder viewpoints of supportive housing services are well documented in the research literature, and research has tended to focus on supportive housing provision in large, urban centres. Potentially, distinct challenges and opportunities associated with the provision of supportive housing services in smaller urban and rural communities that define the greater geographical terrain of Canada and other jurisdictions are less developed. This study describes community mental health service workers’ priorities for supportive housing services. Using Q methodology, 39 statements about supportive housing services, developed from a mixed‐methods parent study, were sorted by 58 service providers working in four communities in northern Ontario, Canada. Data used in this study were collected in 2010. Q analysis was used to identify correlations between service workers who held similar and different viewpoints concerning service priorities. The results yielded four discrete viewpoints about priorities for delivery of supportive housing services including: a functional system, service efficiency, individualised services and promotion of social inclusion. Common across these viewpoints was the need for concrete deliverables inclusive of financial supports and timely access to adequate housing. These findings have the potential to inform the development of housing policy in regions of low population density which address both system and individual variables.
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Keywords: advocacy; human services; inclusion; mental health; policy; supportive housing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2015

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