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Visions Journal

A reminder that this article from our magazine Visions was published more than 1 year ago. It is here for reference only. Some information in it may no longer be current. It also represents the point of the view of the author only. See the author box at the bottom of the article for more about the contributor.

Editor's Message: Health Literacy

Jonny Morris

Reprinted from the "Health Literacy" issue of Visions Journal, 2013, 8 (2), p. 4

Welcome to this issue on health literacy! First, it might be useful to take a moment to clarify who I am. Regular readers will notice that I am not Sarah Hamid-Balma who skillfully introduces and weaves together each issue of Visions in her role as ongoing Editor. And I am not the Guest Editor for this issue. We are lucky to have Dr. Irving Rootman fulfill that role, providing a compelling analysis of BC’s leadership in the area of mental health literacy. For this issue, I am more of a “visiting editor,” bringing this issue to publication after we started work on it during Sarah’s recent maternity leave. I am really pleased to be able to share such a strong collection of articles covering a breadth of ideas associated with health literacy. Let me take a few moments to catch you about what we have in store for you in this issue.

When I first came across the words “health literacy” earlier in my career, the term felt both unfamiliar, and familiar, all at the same time. I remember being able to grasp the concept of literacy, but I wondered about the specifics of literacy linked to health. At first, I developed a fairly basic understanding of health literacy, thinking it meant an individual’s ability to understand health information. As I have spent more time in the field of mental health, and of course during my experiences editing this issue, I have come to develop a more comprehensive understanding of what is meant by health literacy. In terms of my own relationship with health literacy, I can now see it in terms of being able to find information about health, figuring out if that information is of good quality, and communicating what I understand of that information. Of course, understanding the information I’ve found is still a key part. In many ways, I’ve increased my literacy of health literacy!

Each of the contributors in this issue do a wonderful job of bringing greater understanding to what is meant by health literacy. In keeping with the long-standing tradition in Visions, a number of perspectives converge in this issue, helping along a richer, thicker, and more vivid understanding of the topic. Researchers, family members, service providers, a young person, and policymakers all weigh in on the issue. I trust that you will walk away with some new learning about how health literacy supports overall health.

About the author
Jonny Morris is the Director of Public Policy and Campus Mental Health at the Canadian Mental Health Association’s BC Division

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