People struggling with homelessness in Toronto, Canada reported that they face more discrimination or disrespectful treatment based on their mental health diagnostic status than based on their race, according to a study in BMC Health Services Research. And that discrimination, the survey participants reported, was coming from health care practitioners.
The data for the research came from the At Home/Chez Soi randomized controlled trial of providing quality housing to homeless adults diagnosed with mental illnesses. The paper was written by a team that included researchers from the University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry, the Centre for Research on Inner City Health, and the Toronto People with Lived Experience Caucus.
Out of 550 participants, forty-two per cent of people surveyed reported at least one form of perceived discrimination by health care workers. The most prevalent form of perceived discrimination was due to mental illness or substance abuse (33 per cent) and homelessness or poverty (30 per cent). Only 20 per cent of non-Caucasian and 15 per cent of overall participants reported discrimination due to race, ethnicity or skin colour.
“The findings suggest that among ethnically diverse homeless adults with mental illness in a large urban centre in Canada, perceived discrimination in health care settings is common,” psychiatrist Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos said in a press release.
Study examines discrimination among homeless adults in Toronto with mental illness (St. Michael’s Hospital Press Release, September 8, 2014, Medical Press.)
Different faces of discrimination: perceived discrimination among homeless adults with mental illness in healthcare settings (Skosireva, Anna et al. BMC Health Services Research. September 7, 2014. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-376)