Indigenous Issues

Indigenous Mental Health

Regardless of the variations in the histories and health beliefs of First Nations and other Indigenous people across Canada, many hold to the view that health refers to a person's whole being. The notion of health captures aspects of physical, mental, emotional and especially spiritual being.

According to most First Nations, mental health problems are a reflection of imbalance or disharmony in the circle of physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual dimensions of the self. The medicine wheel, which is used widely across Native communities symbolizes wholeness and the importance of balance.

It is important to reflect the holistic approaches of Indigenous tradition by using healing methods that include; connection to culture, connection to family, spirituality, healing ceremonies, role models, and connection to nature. Information adapted from discussion paper: Indigenous Mental Health: What Works Best July 2001, Vicki Smye and Bill Mussell.

Click here to resources for patients such as the Culture of Well-Being Guide to Mental Health Resources for First Nations, Metis, Inuit people in Winnipeg

Cultural Safety

Cultural Safety is a concept developed in New Zealand by nurses working with Māori that moves beyond the traditional concept of cultural sensitivity (being acceptable to difference) to analysing power imbalances, institutional discrimination, colonisation and relationships with colonisers. It develops the idea that to provide quality care for people from different ethnicities than the mainstream, health care providers must embraces the skill of self-reflection as a means to advancing a therapeutic encounter and provide care congruent with the knowledge that cultural values and norms of the patient are different from his/her own. The concept is spreading to other fields of human services and to other areas of the world, particularly in areas with strong minorities of indigenous people in former European colonies. Cultural safety is currently a concept that is used in the training of people in certain professions in Canada such as nurses and social workers to help work with i! ndigenous populations.

One Focus; Many Perspectives