Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationMcMaster U.
Grant numberGr. 10302
Approve DateApril 13, 2022
Project TitleGordon, Loa (McMaster U.) "Self/care in Canadian Post-Secondary Student Mental Health"
The post-secondary mental health crisis has been labeled a “second pandemic” in Canada as COVID-19 amplifies the distress experienced by students. As provincial and campus providers struggle with the delivery of accessible care, students are turning to self-care practices to manage their distress, which has become a structural imperative at this period in the life-course, especially among equity-seeking groups. Engaging a growing anthropological scholarship that examines care as a relational practice, resource, and problem, this project investigates the experiences of Canadian university students who self-administer care, mapping their pathways to mental health care and attending to the ways that self-care is both indicative and constitutive of flawed systems of formal care. The research treats self-care, which has often been excluded from ethnographic examinations of health, as a configuration of care deserving of critical analysis and not merely a by-product of neoliberal carescapes. Fieldwork involves interviews, discourse analysis, and participant-observation in conversation with students from four Canadian universities, the staff of their Student Wellness Services, and representatives from a national community mental health organization. The project aims to highlight the precarious and ambivalent subjectivities that are created as students are “empowered” or obliged to become providers of their own care.