Benefits for Mental Health Services 

for First Nations

What mental health issues do first nations in Canada experience? What are the benefits of mental health services for native Canadians? Read Here!

The Canadian government, health departments, and private organizations have made substantial efforts to reduce mental illnesses across the country. However, their attempt in address the mental health issues among the First Nations is still in its first steps.

Suffering from stereotypes, racism, and government interventions, first nations in Canada experience various challenges, including inadequate healthcare services and severe mental conditions. 

First Nations and Indigenous People in Canada are two times more likely to experience mental conditions than the non-indigenous population. According to the Canadian Center for Addiction, 16% of indigenous people living on reserves experience stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental conditions compared to 8% of non-indigenous people. 

According to Statistics Canada, teenagers and younger adults among the indigenous group are nine times more likely to experience depression and anxiety than their non-indigenous peers. 

In addition, suicide rates among first nations’ young individuals are seven times more than non-indigenous youth. The report highlights that the suicide rate among first nations men is 2.4 times higher than the national average. 

These statistics show that first nations in Canada are vulnerable to mental health conditions and need mental health services to cope with their illnesses and live happier and safer life. 

First Nations and Mental Health 

Disparities between first nations and non-indigenous people come from colonial practices. These practices are systemic and continue to haunt the indigenous population in North America. 

Intergenerational effects of government programs and residential schools link to poor mental health outcomes for the indigenous population. These programs remove autonomy from first nations, causing them to experience poverty, housing and food insecurity, unemployment, and racial discrimination. 

Making mental healthcare accessible to the indigenous population requires substantial efforts and bringing facilities/services directly to these communities. For example, under-housed and homeless indigenous people in an urban setting are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, such as depression and substance abuse. 

Many first nations men and women do not go to hospitals for care because they have had negative experiences with the health system. For instance, these include racist stereotypes from the hospital staff and traumatic separation from families. 

Here is how a reputable and experienced mental health Centre with utmost dedication to first nations can help men, women, teens, children, adults, and older adults cope with illnesses and live happier lives. 

Helps with PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition caused by an external traumatic stressor. Domestic violence, severe car accidents, rape, war, etc., are common examples of situations that can trigger PTSD. 

However, not everyone who experiences trauma develops this condition. People who experience PTSD have flashbacks and nightmares of the traumatic event, taking a toll on their physical and mental health. 

For instance, indigenous people with PTSD find it challenging to sleep appropriately at night, and experience hypervigilance, fear, trauma, and other symptoms. Mental health services offering psychotherapy (talk therapy) or art therapy is an excellent way for indigenous people to cope with PTSD. 

Psychotherapy identifies thoughts, cognitive patterns, and feelings that negatively affect you. It alters your thoughts and feelings and helps you think positively over time. Psychotherapy combined with other therapies, such as exposure therapy and art therapy, can reduce the symptoms of PTSD. 

Copes with Social Anxiety 

Generally, indigenous groups and tribes in Canada have a worldview that focuses on connectedness, strong family bonds, positive relationships, the wisdom of elders, oneness in nature, and values of traditions. These values protect native Canadians from mental health conditions like depression and stress. 

However, native Canadians who interact or work with non-indigenous Canadians suffer from social anxiety due to racial discrimination and stereotyping. As a result, indigenous people may find it difficult to integrate their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. 

Bear in mind that this negatively alters their behaviors and increases the risk of suffering from social anxiety. For example, indigenous children experience bullying, teasing, ridicule, rejection, and humiliation in schools, making them more vulnerable to social anxiety disorder. 

Besides, adverse life events, such as trauma or abuse, can also lead to social anxiety disorder. Therefore, there is a need for more mental health services for indigenous groups across Canada to protect them from social anxiety. 

We offer psychotherapy that improves symptoms in indigenous people with social anxiety. We help people learn how to identify and change negative thoughts about themselves, improve self-confidence, and cope with negativity in social situations. 

Our art therapy sessions for children are also aimed at reducing the negative symptoms of anxiety, depression and anger issues and other emotional and behavioral issues. 

A combination of art therapy and psychotherapy is also offered to teenagers and young adults, who are willing to explore their emotions and thoughts from a non-verbal perspective following exploring them in meaningful conversations.

Reduces Addiction 

A quantitative research study published on the Canadian government’s official website states that alcohol, marijuana, and substance abuse addiction is high among indigenous people. These problems are prevalent among the first nation’s youth. 

Substance abuse can lead to severe health issues, including organ damage, fertility, gastrointestinal diseases, hormonal imbalances, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and metabolic and homeostatic issues. 

The prevalence of substance abuse among native Canadians can lead to long-term consequences and result in death. Psychotherapy is an integral part of mental health treatment options for substance abuse. 

For example, talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy can reduce addiction and substance abuse among indigenous groups. It is an effective treatment option for alcohol, marijuana, prescription drug, and other types of substance abuse or addiction. 

A qualified, experienced, and skilled therapist helps indigenous people to find connections between their feelings, thoughts, emotions, and actions. The purpose is to increase awareness and streamline the recovery process. 

In addition, art therapy for teenagers and young adults can help them express their thoughts and feelings and engage in healthier activities to avoid addiction and substance abuse. 

Moreover, a culturaly aware psychotherapist, will be conscious of the traditional ways of healing (e.g., land based practices, sweat lodge, etc) that are practiced in the client’s community and encourages the client to connect to their culture as a way of healing.

Reduces Risks of Suicidal Tendencies 

Cultural Survival highlights that self-inflicted injuries and suicide are more common among indigenous people than non-indigenous people. The suicide rate for native Canadians between 15 and 24 is 126 per 100,000. On the other hand, it is 24 per 100,000 people in non-indigenous Canadians. 

Numerous reasons lead to increasing suicide rates among native Canadians. These include cultural disconnection, stereotyping, social pressure, racial discrimination, and domestic violence. 

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in Canada, particularly among the young population. High suicide rates among indigenous communities are associated with discrimination, colonialism, loss of culture/language, and community disruption. 

Psychotherapy is an excellent way to reduce suicidal tendencies among first nations youth. Talk therapy, art therapy, and other forms of therapy can reduce suicidal thoughts, repeat attempts, and depressive symptoms and improve self-confidence, hope, positive feelings/emotions, and the ability to cope with harsh situations. 

Free mental health services for First Nations

At Therapedia Centre, we offer free psychotherapy and art therapy services to First Nations in Ontario. Our services cover Indigenous people, who have an Indigenous status. Children, youth, and adults can benefit from the free psychotherapy services online or in person at our downtown Toronto office.

Our services are also covered by Jordan’s Principle, which is a government fund to ensure accessibility of services to Indigenous children and youth. Our psychotherapists and art therapists travel to the First Nations communities. Contact us for more information.

Final Words 

Therapedia Centre has qualified mental health professionals with years of experience in various psychological treatment options, including art therapy for children and adolescents and psychotherapy for adults. We have extensive knowledge of native Canadians and use evidence-based approaches to help our clients.

Our art therapists and psychotherapists have been providing mental health services to the First Nations in Ontario and Quebec for the last decade. Therapedia Centre is proud to be in affiliation with Montreal Art Therapy Centre that has been an active part of mental health providers in the Cree communities in Quebec for the last decade. Our mutual projects are funded by the Cree Health Board, Jordan’s Principle and NIHB. Contact us today for more information.