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Embodied injustice: Policies to address self-injury among low-income women, aged 35-49, in Alberta

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In Alberta, low-income women, aged 35-49, engage in self-injury at rates second only to female youth. This demographic faces the stressors of living in poverty combined with gendered and mid-age challenges and expectations. Government strategies addressing self-injury have been ineffective. A literature review and interviews with frontline professionals reveal that self-injury is a survival-based coping mechanism. Interviews with academics and policy professionals, supported by research on policy alternatives, illuminate the need for a comprehensive, intersectionality-informed approach to preventing and reducing self-injury. Three policy options are analyzed: the provision of counselling benefits for low-income individuals, greater integration of mental health care into the primary health care system and increased capacity for community mental health outreach and services. Increasing access to gender and trauma-informed mental health supports through community outreach is recommended to reduce self-injury among this population. Reforming systems of power to reduce inequity is recommended to prevent self-injury.
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