COVID-19 Pandemic Guidelines for Mental Health Support of Racialized Women At Risk of Gender Based Violence

COVID19 Guidelines for mental health support of racialized women at risk of Gender Based Violence – Synthesis Report

Multidisciplinary Team: Nazilla Khanlou (Principal Investigator) and Dr. Andrew Ssawe (Principal Knowledge User) with Co-Investigators:  Yvonne Bohr, Jennifer Connolly, Iris Epstein, Thumeka Mgwigwi, Soheila Pashang, and Collaborators: Farah Ahmad, Negar Alamdar and Sajedeh Zahraei

Project Coordinator: Luz Maria Vazquez

Funding Source:  Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Operating Grant: Knowledge Synthesis: COVID-19 in Mental Health & Substance Use

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated gender-based violence against women and girls.  Statistics from across the world show a drastic increase in violence against women and girls during the current COVID-19 pandemic.  The United Nations has referred to this significant social and public health issue as the “shadow pandemic”. We know that violence against women results in high rates of mortality and morbidity and that is also associated with mental health problems – psychological distress, depression, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders.

The social determinants of health factors place racialized women and girls at an increased disadvantage during the pandemic. Practice and policy must address the structural determinants of the mental health of racialized women at risk of gender-based violence during COVID-19 pandemic.

In Spring of this year we received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to conduct a rapid knowledge synthesis for our project titled “COVID-19 pandemic guidelines for mental health support of racialized women at risk of gender-based violence.” This was an academic-community collaboration between Principal Investigator Dr. Nazilla Khanlou (York University) and Principal Knowledge User Dr. Andrew Ssawe (South Riverdale Community Health Centre).

Our project has multiple outcomes* that knowledge users can utilize to support trauma informed mental health care program planning, delivery, and evaluation during the COVID19 pandemic’s response and recovery phase.

We present multi-level recommendations and best practices for equity informed mental health promotion and care. These include individual, psychological and situational (micro); institutional, organizational and agency-based (meso); and structural, systemic (macro) levels.  We emphasize an upstream approach to public mental health support, presenting the recommendations from macro to meso to micro levels.

Using information from our project’s tools, decision-makers can assess potential venues to re-direct funding and programming to address inequities in the social determinants of mental health and related health disparities.

* Project Outcomes:

  1. Knowledge Synthesis Report: Click here
  2. Information Brief: Click here
  3. Infographic: Click here
  4. Toolkit: Click here
  5. Policy Brief: Click here

For more information visit:  York University