Ontario Increasing Mental Health Supports for Indigenous Communities

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Indigenous-led health projects tackle youth mental health and diabetes. Photo sourced from Ontario SPOR Support Unit

The Ontario government is investing over $12.8 million to be disbursed immediately to expand and enhance existing programs for Indigenous communities that aid in mental health and addictions services in a culturally relevant way.

“For far too long, Indigenous peoples and communities across Ontario have been faced with gaps and barriers to accessing effective mental health and addictions supports that meet their unique needs,” said Associate Minister Tibollo. “By expanding access for Indigenous communities to higher-quality and culturally appropriate mental health and addictions services, we’re taking another important step in building a mental health and addictions system that fully supports people of all ages in their journey towards mental wellness.”

As a part of the news release, the Ontario government listed a break-down of how the funds will be used:

  • $6.875 million to increase the capacity of community-based and Indigenous-led supports, including the Family Well-Being Program, which provides needs-based services for young Indigenous people in the youth justice system who have complex mental health and substance use needs. The funding will also be used to recruit two community-based mental health and addiction liaisons to help Indigenous-led organizations better address the complex needs of Indigenous survivors of human trafficking.
  • $1.4 million in enhanced community mental health and addictions services and programs in Indigenous-governed primary care teams.
  • $1.412 million to help address gaps and barriers that Indigenous students and their families experience in the school system and support educational retention and success by:
    -increasing funding to Indigenous Graduation Coaches to increase outreach and support during the summer months
    -funding the development of culturally appropriate cannabis training and resources for Indigenous students
    -funding the development of a new strength-based initiative to support young Indigenous women and girls who have lived experience of violence, and/or who have witnessed violence in their families and communities; and
    -funding the implementation of the model for Trauma-Informed Schools as a system-wide model.
  • $1.375 million annually over ten years to support the creation and implementation of 11 new Social Emergency Manager positions in Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) and Grand Council Treaty #3 (GCT#3) First Nation communities, which will build capacity around social emergency prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery efforts
  • $1 million to expand the child and adolescent psychiatry program based in Thunder Bay, with satellite service locations across Northwestern Ontario
  • $900,000 to support additional Indigenous focused mental health and addictions services and programs related to community safety and education.

“Supporting the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples across Ontario is an ongoing priority for our government,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “These investments will help ensure Indigenous peoples, families and communities continue to have access to culturally appropriate and responsive mental health and addictions support and services.”

More to come as SaultOnline follows up on how these funds will effect our local area.