A postcolonial feminist perspective inquiry into immigrant women's mental health care experiences

Joyce Maureen O'Mahony, Tam Truong Donnelly
Issues in Mental Health Nursing 2010, 31 (7): 440-9
The number of immigrants coming to Canada has increased in the last three decades. As a result, there is greater emphasis on health care providers and the health care system to provide culturally appropriate and equitable care. It is well documented that many immigrant women suffer from serious mental health problems and experience difficulties in accessing and using mental health services. In this paper we advocate for new ways of research inquiry in exploring immigrant women's mental health care experiences, ones that move beyond the individual experiences of health and illness toward recognition that the health of immigrant women must be addressed within the social, cultural, economic, historical, and political context of their lives. Drawing on past research we demonstrate how the postcolonial feminist perspective can be used to illuminate the ways in which race, gender, and class relations influence social, cultural, political, and economic factors, which, in turn, shape the lives of immigrant women. We suggest that postcolonial feminism provides an analytic lens to (a) generate transformative knowledge about immigrant women's mental health care experiences; (b) improve equitable health care; and (c) increase understanding of what would be helpful in meeting the immigrant women's health care needs.

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