Past literature demonstrates that the subset of the population with mental illness is at an increased risk of contact with law enforcement. For persons with mental illness residing in areas characterized by social disorganization, this risk is even greater. Nevertheless, much research neglects to address these relationships in the framework of rural northern environments. Using census and police data, this study sought to demonstrate a relationship between social disorganization and rates of Mental Health Act (MHA) calls in northern British Columbia. In an effort to explore a possible spatial association between mental-health-related police contacts and health care accessibility, distances between the location of MHA calls and the nearest health centre were also determined. Findings suggest that social disorganization theory may not generalize to rural environments, particularly for the explanation of mental health phenomena. Furthermore, long distances to health services may impact police response to mental health emergencies in these environments.
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Thesis advisor: Verdun-Jones, Simon
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