Defining Community

From 2012-2014, I worked on a project with Dr. Sean Kidd, a clinician and research scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and others, including members of the Empowerment Council, a group that advocates for the rights of clients/survivors and ex-clients of mental health and substance use services, on a longitudinal, mixed-methods study entitled

Defining Community for Persons with Psychosis: The Toronto Context

Participants in this study include an ethnically diverse group of 31 individuals (16 women, 15 men) who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or a psychosis spectrum major mental illness and who largely live in supportive/subsidized housing environments in downtown Toronto neighbourhoods (primary participants). Participants also include over 100 community members working in a variety of settings that the primary participants and others experiencing poor mental health interact with/access on a regular basis, such as physical and mental health care services, recreational (e.g., library, gym), faith-based (e.g., churches), food-related (e.g., convenience stores, coffee shops), educational (e.g., college), and work-related spaces (e.g., supported work programs).

The main research questions for this study include:

  • What experiences, beliefs, behaviours, and spaces constitute community participation for people who have been diagnosed with psychosis?
  • Where are people who have been diagnosed with psychosis finding social interaction and belonging?
  • What challenges are they encountering?
  • What does community and belonging look and feel like to them?

For more information about this study, please visit the study website.

‘Community’ Reconsidered, S. Kidd (CAMH Blog)

June 2016: Our first academic publication about this project is now available:

Kidd, S.A., Frederick, T., Tarasoff, L.A., Virdee, G., Lurie, S., Davidson, L., Morris, D., McKenzie, K. (2016). Locating community among people with schizophrenia living in a diverse urban environment. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 19(2), 103-121.

The video from the LGBTQ extension is now available: Reimagining Inclusion explores the experience of community for individuals that identify as LGBTQ with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

April 2015 Knowledge Translation Events:

On Thursday, April 23rd we’ll be at PARC sharing our study findings with a group of employers, community-based service providers, and community members. This event will include a history of how community has been taken up by consumer-survivors, a short video presentation, and a discussion about inclusion and discrimination concerning people with mental illness in Toronto’s downtown neighbourhoods.

On Wednesday, April 29th at the Wellesley Institute we will be sharing our study findings with a group of key decision makers and corporate leaders. The event will include showing of a short film we have developed about inclusive spaces, followed by ample time for a discussion on how to advance inclusive spaces in the City of Toronto, based on our study findings.

May 2016 Knowledge Translation Event:

On May 11th, Dr. Sean Kidd and colleagues will be presenting the findings of their study of community participation among LGBTQ people with diagnoses of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder living in the Toronto area at the TIFF Bell Lightbox (this study is considered the LGBTQ extension of the main community study that I worked on).

reimagining inclusion poster

‘Re-imagining Inclusion’ has been designed to facilitate an engaging and informed conversation about how community and service spaces can become more inclusive for people with intersecting, stigmatized identities.

At this event you will hear key findings from a study of community participation among LGBTQ people with diagnoses of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. We will present a short animated film created by study participants and hear key stakeholder perspectives from The 519, the Sherbourne Health Centre, Working for Change, and CAMH. There will a Q&A period where you will have the opportunity to join the discussion. We hope you join us for informative and dynamic conversation, lunch, and film!

WHEN: Wednesday, 11 May 2016 from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM

WHERE: TIFF Bell Lightbox – 350 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 3X5, Canada

Register for free at:

October 2016: Forthcoming publications based on findings from this study:

Understanding perceptions of community participation in persons with severe mental illness: A mixed-methods approach. Canadian Journal of Public Health.

Exploring the contours of religion and spirituality in creating community: A focus on persons with psychosis. Journal of Community Psychology.

A qualitative description of community service, business, and organization perspectives on mental illness and inclusion. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation.

Physical health, community participation and schizophrenia. Journal of Health Psychology.

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