Mental health and substance use issues continue to be a priority concern for many First Nations communities. While there are different kinds of specific mental health issues that can affect communities, mental wellness is a broader term that can be defined as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, and is able to make a contribution to her or his own community.
Mental wellness is supported by culture, language, Elders, families, and creation, and is necessary for healthy individual, community and family life. First Nations embrace the achievement of whole health - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and economic well-being - through a coordinated, comprehensive approach that respects, values, and utilizes First Nations cultural knowledge, approaches, languages, and ways of knowing.
Federal, provincial, and territorial mental wellness programs and services seek to address the indicators that challenge wellness in many First Nations communities; however, there are gaps in services. Further, programs and services are not always delivered in a culturally safe manner. As a result, First Nations communities and leadership have been calling for the development of a coordinated, comprehensive approach to mental health and addictions programming. In response, the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB), the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), and Indigenous mental health leaders from various First Nations non-government organizations jointly developed the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework (the Framework).
Mental wellness is a balance of the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional. This balance is enriched as individuals have: purpose in their daily lives whether it is through education, employment, care giving activities, or cultural ways of being and doing; hope for their future and those of their families that is grounded in a sense of identity, unique indigenous values, and having a belief in spirit; a sense of belonging and connectedness within their families, to community, and to culture; and finally a sense of meaning and an understanding of how their lives and those of their families and communities are part of creation and a rich history.
Model and Continuum of Mental Wellness Services
The First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum (the Continuum) is a complex model, rooted in culture and comprised of several layers and elements foundational to supporting First Nations mental wellness. Embedded within the model are the key themes that emerged through dialogue with partners as well as the social determinants of health that are critical to supporting and maintaining wellness. The Continuum must be supported by a number of partners at several levels, such as:
the Federal Government,
Provincial and Territorial Governments,
Non-government Organizations, and
The model also includes a number of elements that support the health system, specifically: governance, research, workforce development, change and risk management, self-determination, and performance measurement.
The Continuum aims to support all individuals across the lifespan, including those with multiple and complex needs. The centre of the model refers to the interconnection between mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional behaviour - purpose, hope, meaning, and belonging. A balance between all of these elements leads to optimal mental wellness.
First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Model
Four Directions (outcomes) - Hope; Belonging; Meaning; and Purpose.
Community - Kinship; Clan; Elders; and Community.
Populations - Infants and Children; Youth; Adults; Gender-Men, Fathers and Grandfathers; Gender-Women, Mothers and Grandmothers; Health Care Providers; Community Workers; Seniors; Two-Spirit People and LGBTQ; Families and Communities; Remote and Isolated Communities; Northern Communities; and Individuals in Transition and Away from Reserve.
Specific Population Needs - Intergenerational Impacts of Colonization and Assimilation; People Involved with Care Systems and Institutional Systems; Individuals with Process Addictions; Individuals with Communicable and Chronic Diseases; Individuals with Co-occurring Mental Health and Addictions Issues; Individuals with Acute Mental Health Concerns; Crisis; and People with Unique Needs.
Continuum of Essential Services - Health Promotion, Prevention, Community Development and Education; Early Identification and Intervention; Crisis Response; Coordination of Care and Care Planning; Detox; Trauma-informed Treatment; and Support and Aftercare.
Supporting Elements - Performance Measurement; Governance; Research; Education; Workforce Development; Change Management and Risk Management; and Self-Determination.
Partners in Implementation - Non-governmental Organizations; Provincial and Territorial Government; Federal Government; Regional Entities; Nations; Communities; and Private Industry.
Indigenous Social Determinants of Health - Environmental Stewardship; Social Services; Justice; Education and Lifelong Learning; Language Heritage and Culture; Urban and Rural; Land and Resources; Economic Development; Employment; Health Care; and Housing.
Key Themes for Mental Wellness - Community Development, Ownership and Capacity Building; Quality Care System and Competent Service Delivery; Collaboration with Partners; and Enhanced Flexible Funding.
Culture as Foundation - Elders, Cultural Practitioners and Kinship Relationships; Language, Practices, Ceremonies, Knowledge, Land and Values.
For further Information on the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Model please follow the links below
If you require assistance, please do not hesitate to contact the Health Centre and our Mental Wellnss Team at 819-723-2260 - Ext 152