City alliances to reduce mental health inequalities

Knifton, Lee and Quinn, Neil (2013) City alliances to reduce mental health inequalities. In: Global Health and Wellbeing: New York University, 2013-06-17 - 2013-06-19. (Unpublished)

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Even Glasgow contains some of Western Europe's most significant urban deprivation and social problems. Major health challenges persist and mental health inequalities are striking. In response, 50 public agencies and civil society groups formed a city-wide alliance that has lasted a decade, developing programs in communities, schools, and workplaces which reach over 15,000 people each year. This presentation shows learning from this series of papers published in health and social work journals. Three critical findings emerge. First, dual stigma experienced by people who experience mental illnesses in marginalized communities is the major public health concern. Second, large scale programs using arts and dialogue achieves greatest reach and impact amongst marginalized communities. Third, authentic and meaningful involvement of people who have experienced mental illness is critical. The implications are that traditional health education initiatives risk increasing inequalities. When forming alliances with public health, social work’s contribution should be to advocate for and empower marginalized communities, prioritizing health equity over health gain. However mental health inequalities will persist unless we combine this work with social policy reforms that results in changing the underlying social determinants of health.