The Importance of Ecology in Mental Health Care

by Jonathan Samosh, B.A.

What is mental health care? Many people think that mental health care focuses on understanding our internal psychological world and relieving the distress that might exist within it. This perspective is indeed important for effective mental health care. However, a whole wide world also exists outside of our internal psychological experience. In fact, understanding how we all exist within many ecologies can have significant implications for our mental health.

‘Ecology’ refers to all of the complex social systems within which we live. For instance, our families, neighbourhoods, schools, cities, economies, laws, governments, and cultural expectations. In mental health care, ecology means that we want to understand our internal psychological world and all of the many important elements of our external worlds too.

Psychologists with an understanding of ecology can provide mental health care in many ways to promote the wellbeing of individuals, couples, groups, organizations, and communities. With awareness of the diverse ecologies that exist all around us, psychologists can see the bigger picture that enhances treatment to relieve individual psychological distress, alleviate couple relationship difficulties, empower marginalized groups, and address inequalities in social systems. This is the power of ecology in mental health care.

At CFIR, ecology informs psychological services relevant to a diversity of human experiences, such as culture, gender, relationships, and financial means. Read more about CFIR’s multicultural treatment service, gender and relationship diversity service, and accessible low fee psychological service options here.

Jonathan Samosh, B.A. is a counsellor at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) under the supervision of Dr. Dino Zuccarini, C.Psych. and is currently in his third year of training in the clinical psychology doctorate program at the University of Ottawa. He provides psychological therapy and assessment services for adults and couples experiencing psychological, emotional, and relationship distress in a variety of areas, such as anxiety and stress, depression and mood, anger and emotion regulation, grief and loss, traumatic experiences, self-esteem issues, life transitions, personal growth, existential issues related to meaning and purpose, relationship difficulties, and issues related to sexual functioning.