Kinship and Community: Stories of Rurality and Mental Wellness in Northern Alberta

  • Author / Creator
    Friesen, Laura S
  • While nearly 20 percent of Canadians live in rural areas, many face barriers to accessing and accepting mental health services including cost, distance, stigma, lack of anonymity, lack of information, availability of services, and cultural differences. While a growing body of research explores ethics in rural mental health care, little research has focused on rurality as a cultural construct and how this influences experiences and perceptions of mental health care. To explore this further in my master’s thesis, I conducted a comparative case study of two cultural groups living in northern and isolated, rural Alberta, namely, Cree and Mennonites. Through attending to each community’s cultural protocol, seven participants were recruited by community contacts to participate in individual semi-structured interviews followed by individual member checks. Interviews were analyzed within constructivist and further, hermeneutic paradigms, following interpretive inquiry guidelines for analysis and evaluation. The findings suggest that while each group has their own unique within group experiences, there is a shared experience of rurality across groups impacting experiences, attitudes, and beliefs about mental health. These include the importance of community and belonging, responsibility to community, living in and relying on nature, and the fishbowl effect. In addition, the study also identified rural values and norms that may act as barriers to help-seeking, such as self-sufficiency and self-abnegation. This research has both scholarly and practical implications for researchers, students, and practitioners and is relevant for both rural and urban practitioners given that rural individuals frequently seek help outside of their communities due to lack of available services. The findings of this research support existing literature by stating that cultural sensitivity is required when working with rural populations.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Education
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Counselling Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Wallace, K (Department of Educational Psychology)
    • Yohani, S (Department of Educational Psychology)
    • Ellis, J (Department of Elementary Education)