First Nations and Inuit Mental Wellness
Strategic Action Plan
Kathy Langlois
Director General
Community Programs Directorate
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
Health Canada
Context - Mental Wellness Issues
Facing First Nations and Inuit
Suicide Rates:
– 3-6 times higher in First Nations
communities compared to non-Aboriginal
– 11 times higher among Inuit youth
– Higher rates of binge drinking & alcoholrelated hospitalization
– Almost double the number of alcoholrelated deaths
– Rates of domestic violence are up to 5 times
higher than average on First Nations
– Rates of sexual assault are estimated to be
triple the Canadian average
Current FNIHB Mental Health
and Addictions Programming
• National Native Alcohol & Drug Abuse Program
and National Youth Solvent Abuse Program
– Network of 62 treatment centres; more
than 550 community based prevention
programs; more than 1,000 workers.
• Brighter Futures and Building Healthy
Communities ($89M/year):
– BF supports a range of health promotion
and illness prevention activities, including
community-based mental health, child
development, parenting skills, healthy
babies, and injury prevention.
– BHC assists First Nations and Inuit
communities to provide mental health crisis
intervention and aftercare.
Current Programming (cont’d)
• The National Aboriginal Youth Suicide
Prevention Strategy ($15M/year):
– Launched in 2005-06 to reduce risk factors
and promote protective factors against
Aboriginal youth suicide.
• The Indian Residential Schools Resolution
Health Support Program ($19M/year; ramping
– Provides mental, emotional, and cultural
supports to former Indian Residential School
students and their families.
• The Mental Health Crisis Counseling benefit
– Covers the cost of short-term, professional
mental health crisis counseling for eligible
First Nations and Inuit.
National Anti-Drug Strategy
• Modernize the National Native Alcohol and
Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP)
– Increase service effectiveness through
cultural and clinical models (regional needs
assessments, experts panel, evidencebased program framework, accreditation)
– Increase service quality (training,
certification, recruitment and retention)
– Increase access through innovations in
service delivery (outreach, outpatient,
mobile mental wellness teams)
Kirby Report on Mental Health,
Mental Illness and Addictions
 The Senate Standing Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology (chaired by
Senator Kirby) was mandated to examine
issues concerning mental health and mental
illness in the Canadian population
– Final Report - May 9, 2006
– Recommendations on services for all
Aboriginals (First Nations/Inuit/Métis):
 Stronger links to Aboriginal perspectives
 Aboriginal Advisory Committee for the Mental
Health Commission
 Strategy for mental wellness & healing
 “A dramatic change is needed to ensure that FN
and Inuit receive an inclusive range of programs
and services related to health determinants and
linked to positive outcomes”
The Mental Wellness Advisory
Committee (MWAC)
• Mandate: Development of a Strategic Action Plan to
improve the mental wellness outcomes of First
Nations and Inuit and guide mental wellness policy
and program development over the next 3-5 years
• Lead members: AFN, ITK, FNIHB
• Key members: Federal/Provincial/ Territorial
networks; National Native Addictions Partnership
Foundation; Native Mental Health Association of
Canada; Aboriginal Healing Foundation; Canadian
Mental Health Association; Canadian Centre for
Substance Abuse; Centre for Addictions and Mental
Health; Public Health Agency Canada; Indian and
Northern Affairs Canada
Strategic Action Plan – Vision
“First Nations and Inuit embrace the
achievement of whole health (physical,
mental, emotional, spiritual, social and
economic well-being) through a
comprehensive and coordinated
approach that respects, values and
utilizes traditional and cultural
knowledge, methodologies, languages
and ways of knowing.”
Strategic Action Plan – 5 Goals
1. Ensure a Continuum of Services
2. Enhance traditional, cultural and
western Knowledge Development and
3. Support Community Development
4. Health Human Resources
5. Federal/Provincial/Territorial/Aborigin
al Roles & Responsibilities
Strategic Action Plan – Themes
 Community leadership
 Community resources (natural
 Traditional and cultural ways of healing
 Improved communication, sharing of
 Coordinated continuum of services
 Increase number of workers with
appropriate mental health and
addictions and cultural awareness
 Reduce burnout and support existing
staff (clinical supervision)
Alianait - The Inuit-Specific
Mental Wellness Task Group
• Mandate: to create an Inuit-specific national
strategy that reflects Inuit mental wellness
priorities and circumstances
• Inuit-specific plan and goals complement the
MWAC Strategic Action Plan, while addressing
unique Inuit needs and issues
• Inuit approach to mental wellness is holistic,
positive and inclusive of all stakeholders:
“Everyone has a role to play”
Alianait – A Phased Approach to
Mental Wellness
• Four-phased approach to
– Phase I: develop regional
community wellness plans (4)
and an urban Inuit plan;
– Phase II-IV: implement short,
medium and long-term goals
• Focus on community development and
Applying a Public Health
• Contributing to a long-term public health
– Importance of prevention and
– Understanding and building links
between mental and physical health
• Injury prevention; chronic disease;
physical activity
– Building capacity and improving
community wellness
• Collaborative, community-based
approaches offer best chance of success
Promoting Healthy Communities
• Community development approach to health
– Developing community capacity to improve
mental wellness
– Improving mental wellness to develop community
• Mental wellness as a measure of community health
– A range of determinants impact wellness
• Multiple players involved (federal
departments, provincial/territorial
governments, NGOs, etc)
• Co-existing cultural and mainstream approaches to
program delivery
– Respecting, valuing, and utilizing traditional and
cultural knowledge, methodologies, languages,
and ways of knowing
• Role of women
– Engage and empower – international examples of
healthy indigenous communities with vibrant
women leaders
Lessons Learned
To be relevant, programs and services
must respect the importance of:
– Community development and
decision making
– Cultural relevance
– A coordinated continuum of services
Future Directions
• Mental Wellness Advisory Committee
– Collaborate with the Mental Health
Commission of Canada
• Health Canada
– Continue to support the work of MWAC
– Use MWAC Strategic Action Plan (SAP) to
guide existing/new program investments
– Implement NADS – including new NNADAP
(framework) and mental wellness teams
– Explore opportunities for collaboration with
NDPHS partners