Project Spotlight: Shkoday Abinojiiwak Obimiwedoon

Babaamaadiziyuk (they wander about)

Increasing the capacity of the Youth Outreach Workers (YOWs) to identify signs of mental health issues among Indigenous youth program participants due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic

WHO

Indigenous children starting at age two to high school age in Thunder Bay.

WHAT

Objectives

  • Equip staff to identify early signs of emotional distress.
  • Assist youth through culturally appropriate programming.
  • Provide referrals to Elders and Knowledge Keepers who use cultural activities to improve youth mental health and resiliency.
  • Seek support from partnering clinical organizations if further help is needed.

HOW

  • Training Youth Outreach Workers (YOW) to identify signs of mental health issues affecting youth is an effective means of early intervention given the roles they play in the youth’s lives.
  • In addition to working with the youth through the specific program, YOWs would be able to access traditional Elders and Knowledge Keepers to further work with the youth in a culturally appropriate and familiar manner.
  • YOWs can also introduce students with deteriorating mental health to one of our partner organizations.

WHERE

Settings

  • Schools
  • Community

Implementation sites

• Thunder Bay

WHY

  • Indigenous people have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19.
  • YOWs have been working with youth in their respective programs pre-Covid-19, and since then, the YOWs have continued to work with the youth both virtually and in-person.
  • The trust and understanding that has been built by the YOWs is instrumental in youth feeling safe and able to disclose issues which might be affecting them to a supportive person with whom they have already established a good rapport.
  • By training the Youth Outreach Workers in mental health, this is just one more step in providing early intervention support to youth and their families.

 

Key protective factors

  • Healthy relationships with adults
  • Support relationships in the community
  • Cultural connectedness and identity
  • Resiliency
  • Access to health and support services

Key approaches

  • Culturally-informed
  • Equity