Loa Gordon

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

McMaster U.

Grant number

Gr. 10302

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Gordon, Loa (McMaster U.) "Self/care in Canadian Post-Secondary Student Mental Health"

LOA GORDON, then a graduate student at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, received a grant in April 2022 to aid research on “Self/care in Canadian Post-Secondary Student Mental Health,” supervised by Dr. Ellen Badone. This research investigates the self-care practices and beliefs of post-secondary students as it relates to the management of their mental health. The ethnography attends to students’ pathways through care, revealing how self-directed care intersects with forms of professional treatment as well as community and peer supports. The research probes how self-care is embroiled within structures of empowerment and disempowerment, especially for those at the social and medical margins. Data collection spanned 2022- 2023 and involved discourse analysis, ethnographic fieldwork, social cartography, and semi-structured interviews in conversation with students from several Canadian universities, campus wellness providers and stakeholders, representatives from a national community mental health organization, and a group of epidemiologists seeking to understand students’ treatment choices. Findings reveal how self-care is mobilized in ways that reflect how people embody their social, economic, and environmental worlds that come to bear on their bodies and minds. Cultures of restlessness produced by deteriorating social conditions and safety nets result in young people adopting deeply creative and imaginative practices as sources of hope for themselves and their communities. The research has implications for anthropological thinking on care and cure, as well as speculation and the imaginary.