The federal government says $13 million in funding will help address mental health care inequality for Indigenous communities across Canada.

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, Carolyn Bennett, says the funding will ensure that Indigenous people have equitable access to compassionate and culturally-based mental health and substance abuse resources.

In northwestern Ontario, the Northwestern Health Unit is receiving $350,000 to help Indigenous and at-risk youth build the skills and knowledge needed to cope with stressors related to transitioning into secondary school, with 700 youth expected to enroll in the Youth Wellness PreVenture Program.

In the Thunder Bay area, Shkoday Abinojiwak Obimiwedoon is receiving $354,000 to increase the capacity of its Youth Outreach Workers to identify signs of mental health issues among Indigenous Youth Program participants in nine area schools.  

“Indigenous Peoples in Canada are at a higher risk of experiencing mental illness, and face unacceptable intersecting barriers in accessing mental health and substance use services and supports,” says Minister Bennett.

“Our government is taking action to close those gaps and support indigenous leadership in prevention and healing. I thank the organizations receiving funding today for their inspiring work integrating culturally grounded resources into mental health supports and increasing engagement within their communities,” she adds.

The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate help to all Indigenous peoples across Canada 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat.

The Wellness Together Canada portal provides free access to educational content, self-guided therapy, moderated peer-to-peer support, and one-to-one counselling with qualified health professionals. If you or a loved one is struggling, you can access the Wellness Together Canada portal, or call 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 741741 (adults) or 686868 (youth).

Kids Help Phone is also available 24/7 with e-mental health service offering free, confidential support to young people in English and French.