Évaluation d’une intervention de promotion de la citoyenneté : le Projet citoyen de l’Université du rétablissement [Evaluation of a citizenship-oriented intervention: The Citizens’ Project of the University of Recovery]

Name of the Journal: 
Santé Mentale au Québec
Pelletier, J.-F., Pouliot-Morneau, D., Houle, J., Bordeleau, J., Laroche, S., & Rowe, M.
Date of Pub: 
January, 2017

Objectives The Global Model of Public Mental Health is “global” not only in the sense of having an international perspective, but in regarding service users as actors at all levels of public mental health exerting collective and organized influence on the social determinants of health, in addition to being recipients of care. Having access to appropriate health and mental health care when needed is a fundamental human right. Having a say over the manner in which care is provided, including partnership in decision making in care planning and ongoing care, has gained increasing support among recipients and providers of care. Over the past few decades in the Canadian province of Quebec, patient participation and partnership in decision-making has been promoted through successive Mental Health Action Plans (MHAP) and other policies. In these documents, participation and partnership are associated with the exercise of citizenship and the promotion of service users’ rights, including the rights to participate in one’s own care. In this article, using the case example of a citizenship-oriented intervention, namely the Projet citoyen, we discuss the results to a new measure of citizenship, which was developed from a service users’ perspective.Methods Employing a mixed methods approach, two types of data were collected from users of mental health care. Quantitative data were generated from administration of a 23-item measure of citizenship with service users in the province of Quebec (N=802), and qualitative data were collected from four focus groups with another sample of 18 service users. They were presented with results from the administration of the measure, and asked to comment on them in regard to their own experience of citizenship.Results Among the five dimensions of the measure of citizenship, participants scored lowest on the ‘involvement in the community’ dimension, and higher on the other dimensions of ‘basic needs,’ ‘respect by others,’ ‘self-determination,’ and ‘access to services.’ In focus groups, participants said that there is still prejudice in society and discrimination towards people with mental illnesses that limit their right to participate in public debate and mental health programming. Public health interventions at this level may help to change attitudes and social representations, as they are inclusive of persons with lived experience of mental illness. Public discussion of citizenship issues in relation to mental health also represent an opportunity for participants to confront existing problems, as a first step toward collective action.Conclusion People’s lived experience of regaining a sense of citizenship and of belonging to their local neighborhoods and communities, including the scientific micro-community, can help to foster an evolution of public health from disease management to health promotion and community inclusion. More research is needed to compare the sense of citizenship to the rest of the population and to see if specific interventions can have an enduring impact (e.g.: pre/post design).