Epidemiology of Mental Health and Mental Illness
This course will strive to help you to develop an understanding of mental health and mental illness at both the personal/individual level and the level of the population. The field of epidemiology provides tools for us to measure and address the distribution of health and illness at the population level. A number of common epidemiological measures are useful in obtaining a picture of how mental health and mental illness is distributed amongst the population.
Read Chapter 1: What is Mental Health? in A Concise Introduction to Mental Health in Canada (1st edition pp. 13-18) (2nd edition pp. 13–19).
Mental Health Epidemiology Wiki
Various researchers and agencies, such as Statistics Canada, have aimed to obtain information about how mental health and illness are distributed across the population. They have estimated the percentages of people who experience good or poor mental health and compared rates of a number of mental disorders between males and females, children and adults, and various other groups. It is a challenging task to obtain good quality epidemiological information and often involves undertaking very large studies to ensure that the data are representative of the larger population. This learning activity will provide an opportunity for you to initiate an Internet search for good quality information regarding the epidemiology of mental health and mental illness. It will also facilitate the development of a class Wiki of relevant tools through the collection of each student’s information.
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Reflect on information that you or health systems leaders or the general public might want to know about the distribution of mental health or mental illness in the population. From a list of information that you might want to have available, select one piece of information and conduct a web search to locate a reliable and useful piece of information. The source can be a website, a scientific publication, a report, or other source; however, it is important that the source that you select is a PRIMARY source (which means that the authors of the source must have obtained the information themselves). Secondary sources (e.g., websites or writings that quote other people’s findings) are NOT to be used. This is because many secondary sources (even those associated with major organizations or universities) misquote, misunderstand, or misrepresent information they report and thus provide inaccurate information. The epidemiological finding that you obtain and include in the wiki should be expressed using one of the epidemiological terms that are described in the book chapter (prevalence, incidence, years lived with disability, etc.).