M3 Toronto is part of the programme of work in the Urban Brain Lab initiated by Professor Nikolas Rose, with a development grant from the ESRC, 2013-15, to examine the relationship between urban living and mental health. Based upon the literature and discussions of that development work on the “urban brain”, the programme has undertaken empirical work on the mental health of rural-to-urban migrants in mega-cities in China and Brazil, and is exploring possibilities in India. We are now initiating work in Toronto, a very different migrant city, where the majority of migration is not from poor rural areas within the same country, as in Shanghai and São Paulo, but international. We are undertaking this work in partnership with the Wellesley Institute in Toronto, a not-for-profit urban health charity that works in research and policy to improve health and health equity in the Greater Toronto Area which aims to Advance population health and reduce health inequities by driving change on the social determinants of health through applied research, effective policy solutions, knowledge mobilization, and innovation.
‘Mental Life, Migration and the Megacity’ is founded on three premises: (1) that understanding of the relationship between urban life and mental health requires a new kind of relationship between qualitative social science, the epidemiological and psychiatric sciences; (2) that this research, if it is to be meaningful in the 21st century, must forge new links between citizens and scholars in emerging mega-cities; (3) that it must forge those links through close-up qualitative attention to the daily lives of migrants, including attention to the governmental and bureaucratic institutions through which those lives take shape. The first stage of M3 Toronto is composed of three work packages: WP1 Understanding migrants’ mental health in Toronto through a systematic review and synthesis of literature; WP2: Developing a nuanced understanding of Toronto migrants, following the research design of the Newton project in Shanghai. This design focusses on daily life experience and how it relates to mental health issues, using a pilot study of ethnographic field work; WP3: Promoting group meetings between researchers from Toronto and London with a view to developing srategies for impact and funding for a second stage of the project.