Government of Canada announces funding to help improve Indigenous children’s mental health and well-being
August 12, 2021 | Ottawa, ON | Health Canada
Indigenous children in Canada face inequities in accessing health services, including mental health and wellness resources, and the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened these gaps. The Government of Canada is working with partners to address the unique health needs of Indigenous children and ensure they have access to culturally appropriate mental health services, when and where they need them.
Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced $2 million in funding over the next five years to help improve the mental health and well-being of Indigenous children in Canada. This funding goes to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (CHEO), a pediatric research centre in Ottawa, to improve access to the Aaniish Naa Gegii: the Children’s Health and Well‐being Measure (ACHWM) app, a tool developed in partnership with the Naandwechige-Gamig Wikwemkong Health Centre.
The ACHWM is a user-friendly application (app) that provides children, from age eight to 18 years, a safe mechanism to talk about their spiritual, emotional, physical and mental wellness. By following their self-reported health and wellness data, the app helps children experiencing mental health challenges. Community counsellors use the data to ensure children make critical connections to local services through a stepped care model. It is valid, reliable, sensitive, and, most importantly, culturally appropriate.
The app is available to agencies and communities that support the health and well-being of Indigenous children and youth. If you think this app could help your community, please visit ACHWM for more details.
The project will scale-up and spread the existing digital tool to other First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations and communities across the country. By doing so, these communities and organizations will have access to local data and resources to better understand and improve First Nations, Inuit and Métis children’s health and well-being; guide community policies; educate on best practices; inform health services planning; and enable local evaluations that support communities on their path to better health.
”To be effective, mental health and wellness resources must be age appropriate and culturally relevant. This app was made for and with Indigenous children. This investment will help make sure even more children have access to this effective support.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
“Supporting mental wellness and life promotion in Indigenous children and youth through culturally-appropriate resources is crucial. Tools such as the Aaniish Naa Gegii app play an important role in fostering the well-being of youth, and in helping to nurture a generation of strong First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Nancy Young to CHEO and serve as the host institution for this innovative and timely project. Our recent collective awareness of the unique mental health challenges facing Indigenous youth has only been further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. This groundbreaking work will provide much-needed access and critical data to enable the delivery of personalized and holistic care to these children and their families.”
Dr. Jason Berman
CEO and Scientific Director, CHEO Research Institute and Vice President Research, CHEO
“The Aaniish Naa Gegii: the Children’s Health and Well‐being Measure App will be a valuable tool for our children and youth. It will provide a safe and culturally appropriate space to share thoughts on their spiritual, emotional, physical and mental well-being. Our priority is our children and they deserve the very best in services that will nurture and keep them healthy in mind, body and spirit. As well, this data from this app will greatly strengthen our health care services.”
Ogimaa, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory
The ACHWM was developed in partnership between Dr. Nancy Young, Senior Scientist at the CHEO RI, Mrs. Mary Jo Wabano, former Health Services Director at Naandwechige-Gamig Wikwemkong Health Centre in Wiikwemkoong, Ms. Diane Jacko, current Health Services Director in Wikwemikong and their team.
Since 2014, the ACHWM team has piloted the digital tool with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and organizations across Canada and shared it with 39 communities. The app is transforming the way Indigenous children are engaged in health assessments and the way their leaders plan and evaluate services.
The ACHWM tool has been tailored to the needs and priorities of the communities where it is currently used. It will be further adapted and tailored to meet community and cultural needs (i.e., Northern First Nations communities and Métis) as well as adapted for older youth and younger children.
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
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