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ISSN: 2167-1168

Journal of Nursing & Care
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Research Article

Sheltering Aboriginal Women with Mental Illness in Ontario, Canada: Being “Kicked” and Nurtured

Phyllis Montgomery1*, Sarah Benbow2, Laura Hall3, Denise Newton-Mathur1, Cheryl Forchuk4 and
Sharolyn Mossey1
1School of Nursing, Ramsey Lake Road, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
2Faculty of Health Sciences, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
3York University, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada
4Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Lawson Health Research Institute, 1151, Richmond Street, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
Corresponding Author : Phyllis Montgomery
Professor, School of Nursing
Ramsey Lake Road, Laurentian University
Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Tel: (705) 675-1151 Ext. 3818
E-mail: [email protected]
Received April 08, 2014; Accepted May 05, 2014; Published May 08, 2014
Citation: Montgomery P, Benbow S, Hall L, Mathur DN, Forchuk C, et al. (2014) Sheltering Aboriginal Women with Mental Illness in Ontario, Canada: Being “Kicked” and Nurtured. J Nurs Care 3:164. doi:10.4172/2167-1168.1000164
Copyright: © 2014 Montgomery P, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

Objective: For individuals living with mental health challenges, the provision of homeless shelters can offer a temporary respite in overwhelming life circumstances. There is, however, limited evidence regarding the subjective experiences associated with shelter services by Aboriginal women in Canada. The purpose of this study was to develop an understanding of the day-to-day experiences of Aboriginal women as they seek and provide safety, comfort, health, and healing in the context of mental illness and insecure housing. Methods: The study design was a secondary qualitative analysis of data collected in a primary mixed method study involving persons faced with mental health and housing challenges in southern Ontario, Canada. Narrative analysis was used to identify common experiences among 11 shelter service users and 10 shelter service providers, all of whom where Aboriginal women. Results: Regardless of whether the women received or provided shelter services, they consistently described experiences about being “kicked” and nurtured. Their stories about being “kicked” described experiences associated with compounding losses. Juxtaposed to this reality, were accounts about being nurtured or “lifting each other up.” Nurturing relations were essential to address the pervasive health and social disparities experienced by the women. Relationships within homeless shelters were directed towards supporting the health and well-being of individual women and their broader community. Conclusion: This study’s findings extend the community mental health body of nursing literature regarding Aboriginal women living with mental illness and homelessness. Despite the protective and restorative components of nurturing within shelter services, cooperative networks need to be developed to build communities that eradicate the pervasive losses experienced by Aboriginal women who continue to be “kicked.”

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