Honouring National Indigenous Peoples Day and Breaking the Silence on Mental Health

June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day, an event where we come together to celebrate Indigenous communities in Canada. This day is an opportunity to learn more about the history and stories of Indigenous people. Today, we are spotlighting the stories and groundbreaking work of Indigenous youth who are combating mental health stigma in Indigenous communities. We are also sharing accessible mental wellness resources to support Indigenous people and work toward creating a safe, uplifting, and supportive environment for all.

Breaking Mental Health Stigma in Indigenous Communities

Indigenous people living in Canada experience mental health issues at higher rates than non-Indigenous people, with suicide rates being three times higher among First Nations, two times higher among Métis, and nine times higher among Inuit peoples. Indigenous youth are also at an increased risk of suicide, and accessible resources are vital to address this crisis. The legacy of colonialism, forced assimilation, and cultural suppression has led to intergenerational trauma, perpetuating cycles of pain and suffering. In many communities across Canada, there is a lack of culturally sensitive support and resources that are available to Indigenous individuals, and this contributes to mental health disparities.

In addition to the lasting impact of colonization and a lack of culturally sensitive support, stigma surrounding mental health issues can be a major barrier to seeking support in Indigenous communities. The fear of being negatively judged and labeled can prevent individuals from confiding in others and getting the help they need. However, by sharing their stories and experiences, Indigenous youth are breaking down stigma and inspiring others to do the same. Stigma-Free Mental Health has partnered with Indigenous mental health organizations to bring awareness to their resources and support them in breaking the stigma in Indigenous communities.

Indigenous Mental Health Resources

Our Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit features an Indigenous Highlight section that showcases accessible resources created by Indigenous organizations, including the youth-led organization We Matter. We Matter provides diverse mental health toolkits created for Indigenous peoples, by Indigenous peoples. The Indigenous Highlight section also features Inspiring Stories where Indigenous youth share their mental health journeys. These resources are helpful for Indigenous rural residents, as well as support workers, teachers, and parents/guardians who are looking for mental health resources to share with Indigenous youth. Through our Toolkit, you will also gain access to the Nation Health Authority’s Hope, Help, and Healing Toolkit. If these resources would be useful for yourself or someone you know, or you’d like to learn more about We Matter and the lived experiences of Indigenous youth, we invite you to visit our Indigenous Highlight section.

Another free resource is the Hope for Wellness Help Line, which provides 24/7 support to Indigenous people in Canada. The helpline can be reached at 1-855-242-3310. If you or someone you know is in need of mental health support, please visit our Help and Community Resources page for a broader list of resources. Our charity also provides Peer Support Fundamentals Training for rural residents living in Canada. This training program is for those who are interested in learning valuable peer support skills, creating approachable conversations about mental wellness, and breaking stigma in their communities.

At Stigma-Free Mental Health, we aim to bring diverse mental health education to classrooms across Canada. The no-cost Lesson Plans available to educators in our Student Mental Health Toolkit incorporate Indigenous perspectives, facilitating inclusive, respectful, and stigma-free learning environments.

By amplifying Indigenous voices and raising awareness about accessible resources, we can work together to create a more supportive environment where Indigenous individuals feel empowered to discuss their mental health and receive support when they need it. Let’s continue to listen, learn, and highlight the work of Indigenous people, paving the way toward a future where mental wellness is supported and stigma can be dismantled.

References

Hope for Wellness Helpline.

Suicide among First Nations people, Métis and Inuit (2011-2016): Findings from the 2011 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort (CanCHEC). (2019, June 28).

By: Monique Zizzo

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