June 10, 2021 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Congratulations to Dr. Rick Csiernik, Professor in King’s School of Social Work, who along with Dr. Cheryl Forchuk, co-edited a newly-published book Poverty, Mental Health, and Social Inclusion, by Canadian Scholars Press.

The book launched on June 2, 2021, with a virtual event held by the Community-University Research Alliance (CURA).

The book utilizes the research of academics and the experiences of mental health practitioners and survivors to examine and lead to a better understanding of the relationships between poverty and social inclusion for those mental health survivors. The book tackles issues ranging from homelessness and housing, to stigma and mental health and includes stories from Canadian veterans, Indigenous women, homeless youth and families, and mental health consumer-survivors.

Poverty, Mental Health, and Social Inclusion discusses the causes of the rise of poverty and mental health issues, the effects of social exclusion and suggests possible solutions to expand social inclusion to marginalized groups. The book explores “what it is like to be a mother experiencing homelessness and not be able to provide that basic need for your children, about the abuse we now are too familiar with experienced by members of our Indigenous community, and the experience of returning from Afghanistan as a veteran and no longer fitting into the country you served,” explains Dr. Csiernik.

Dr. Csiernik was co-editor on the book with Dr. Cheryl Forchuk. Dr. Forchuk is a Distinguished University Professor in the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing at Western University; a Scientist and Assistant Director at the Lawson Health Research Institute; and the Beryl and Richard Ivey Research Chair in Aging, Mental Health, Rehabilitation, and Recovery at the Parkwood Research Institute.

Dr. Csiernik brings fifteen years of experience working with a team to address the issues of mental health, homeless and poverty. “One of the themes that emerged from our early work was the sense of being invisible, not being seen and literally being walked over in the streets of London,” says Dr. Csiernik.

By the time the team finished their first book, Homelessness, Housing and Mental Health: Finding Truths - Creating Change, they realized the issues of poverty and mental health would not be solved by a research study, but by involving the people and helping move them from being socially excluded to becoming socially included.

With 59 contributors from 19 academic disciplines collaborating on 20 distinct chapters, the book is the result of “literally thousands of hours of research that then led to hundreds of hours of writing that created more articles than appear in the book.” Because of the contributors and topics, the material has appeared in a broad range of journals. Poverty, Mental Health, and Social Inclusion brings the research together in one publication.

The text seeks to be a valuable resource for courses on mental health, poverty, and social policy across the disciplines of social work, sociology, and health studies at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

Dr. Csiernik says the book will not have the solution to poverty or mental health. Instead, “what the research and writing you will find in the book does do, is document the intersection and interplay of issues and offer solutions for social inclusion to make visible these members of our community who we look at but too often don’t see,” he says.

Dr. Csiernik says there are parallels between the isolation being felt by those experiencing mental health issues and homelessness and the isolation the world has felt due to COVID-19.

“Imagine that it just hasn’t been 15 months you have been socially isolated but your entire adult lifetime and there is no vaccine that is going to allow you to become socially included. That is what makes the book valuable to a range of people: we all now appreciate the important of social inclusion just a little bit more than we did in March 2020,” he says.

Dr. Csiernik says he has seven projects in various stages of completion including publications about mental health services to students in Ontario's Christian school system, counselling services to families of school aged children during the pandemic, how Canada's unidimensional drug policy (focusing only on biomedical issues) has contributed to the opioid crisis in Canada, the impact of COVID-19 on the provision of counselling services at King's, a new visual addiction relapse prevention tool, and how the School of Social Work's response to COVID-19 and a move to virtual counselling has impacted students, community partners, and service users. 

In addition to those projects, Canadian Scholars Press recently released the third edition of Dr. Csiernik’s book, Substance Use and Misuse and he has begun work on the 4th edition of Responding to the Oppression of Addiction. 

For more information on Poverty, Mental Health, and Social Inclusion, please visit the Canadian Scholar’s website.

Media coverage:

CTV: New resource highlights local programs critical to reducing feelings of isolation for homeless

London Free Press: London book examines intersection of homelessness, poverty, mental illness