Mental health in a Canadian Old Order Mennonite community


This paper presents the results of a 2010 survey exploring the determinants of rural mental health in two farming groups in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Old Order Mennonites (OOMs) and non-OOM farmers. Comparing these two groups reduces the likely impact of many contextual features impacting both groups, such as local economic conditions. We explore a comprehensive list of health determinants to assess their relative importance and thus enable policy action to focus on those having the greatest impact. The mental component summary (MCS) of the short- form health survey (SF-12) was used to measure mental health. We compare mental health in the two populations and use multiple regression to determine the relative importance of the determinants in explaining mental health. The results show that OOMs experience better mental health than non-OOMs, in part due to the strong mental health of OOM women. Coping, stress and social interaction shape mental health in both groups, reflecting the broader determinants literature and suggesting these are important across many populations with different life circumstances. Other determinants are important for one group but not the other, underscoring the diversity of rural populations. For example, different social capital measures shape mental health in the two groups, and sense-of-place is associated with mental health in only one group (OOMs). The results are discussed in terms of their implications for future health determinants research and policy action to address rural mental health.

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Fisher, K. , Newbold, K. , Eyles, J. and Elliott, S. (2013) Mental health in a Canadian Old Order Mennonite community. Health, 5, 538-556. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.53A073.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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