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Indigenous youth share their experiences with accessing mental health services, and offer solutions to improve outcomes

Press Release

Toronto, February 5, 2024 – A new report from Deloitte Canada highlights the perspectives and insights of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis youth leaders as they navigate their healing journey, and provide recommendations for advancing reconciliation through equitable access to mental wellness support systems. Breaking colonial legacies and mapping new pathways to mental wellness is the third volume of the Voices of Indigenous Youth Leaders on Reconciliation series from Deloitte’s Future of Canada Centre (FCC) – a joint initiative between the FCC and Indigenous Youth Roots, formerly Canadian Roots Exchange.

According to the report, as Indigenous youth and families seek to dismantle historic legacies of trauma, it’s critical that Canada’s mental health care system can better respond to the needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The report highlights the need for mental wellness systems to incorporate Indigenous ways of healing, and accelerate the accreditation and registration of Indigenous mental wellness practitioners.

“Traditional forms of healing, including working with land-based medicines, underpinned Indigenous Peoples’ mental wellness for generations before being disrupted by colonial forces. Today, many Indigenous youth find the availability of cultural forms of care extremely limited,” says Dr. Lana Potts, National Indigenous Health Lead, Deloitte Canada. “That’s why solutions for improving mental wellness outcomes for Indigenous Peoples need to come from and be led by Indigenous communities and mental wellness leaders.”

Indigenous youth identified insights into Indigenous-led mental wellness approaches, including spiritual wellness programming. Programs like arts groups, drumming circles, and peer social gatherings promote Indigenous youth’s mental wellness and reduce stigma to accessing wellness services. Mentorship – including non-Indigenous mentors – and participation in sports and recreation, have also been found to help Indigenous youth explore their identity and spirituality, and strengthen their social connections, confidence, and resilience.

Timely access to responsive mental wellness supports was also identified as a significant barrier Indigenous Peoples face. For example, Indigenous youth identified access to care in rural and remote communities was a barrier that can result in more harm and even loss of life. Finding the right practitioner for mental health care can often be solved by means of virtual connections; however, at the end of 2021, only 43 per cent of First Nation reserves in Canada had access to the minimum broadband speeds compared with 91 per cent of Canadian households. Administrative barriers to accessing care, and social stigma are also deterrents to Indigenous Peoples seeking mental wellness care.

Structured as four pathways to mental wellness, the report includes recommendations by Indigenous youth and mental health providers for policymakers and leaders across government, corporate Canada, and the medical field, to advance reconciliation through improved access to mental wellness services. They include:

  • Working together, invest in a society that advances equity and safety for all by prioritizing the proximity and accessibility of community and hospital-based mental wellness supports for Indigenous communities and providing sufficient funding to basic infrastructure and services.
  • Empower First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nations to pursue their mental wellness goals and return their autonomy to provide care for their people through increased and sustainable funding towards Indigenous-led mental wellness service and research on innovative practice and outcomes.
  • Improve the supply of mental wellness care services and reduce barriers to access by promoting and incentivizing the accreditation of Indigenous mental wellness practitioners through targeted scholarships and grants.
  • Reconcile approaches to mental wellness care by working with Indigenous Nations and mental health leaders to train practitioners in prescribing care interventions that are rooted in Indigenous traditions such as land-based programming.

Policymakers, mental health institutions, and corporate Canada are paying closer attention to calls for coordinated and improved access to care for all, however, Indigenous youth leaders are still waiting for meaningful action and support from non-Indigenous parties in co-creating a better future.

To access more actionable recommendations put forward by Indigenous youth leaders, please find the full report here.

About Deloitte Canada
Deloitte provides audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 500® companies through a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories bringing world-class capabilities, insights, and service to address clients’ most complex business challenges. Deloitte LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership, is the Canadian member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

Our global Purpose is making an impact that matters. At Deloitte Canada, that translates into building a better future by accelerating and expanding access to knowledge. We believe we can achieve this Purpose by living our shared values to lead the way, serve with integrity, take care of each other, foster inclusion, and collaborate for measurable impact.

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Media contacts:
Katie Watkins
Katie Watkins
Manager, Public Relations

kawatkins@deloitte.ca

+1 416-933-4538

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