Federal Government pledges funds to support Indigenous mental health during COVID-19 pandemic


On August 25, the Federal Government announced new funding available to Indigenous communities to deal with mental health issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $82.5 million will be divided between First Nations, Inuit, and Métis regional organizations, which will determine how the money is used.

The funding is aimed at expanding “culturally appropriate services” such as on the land, community-based programs, mental wellness teams, virtual counselling, and substance abuse treatment services.

Access to many mental health services within Indigenous communities has been disrupted due to the pandemic. Some services have shifted to virtual and telehealth treatment options but this can create obstacles for those living in remote communities that have limited connectivity.

During Tuesday’s announcement, Indigenous Services Minister, Marc Miller said that intergenerational trauma in Indigenous communities, a result of residential schools and the current child-welfare system, has been exacerbated because of the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, demand for counselling and mental wellness support was already high and COVID-19 has caused an increase in mental health challenges for individuals and communities as a whole.

Miller also noted that Indigenous Service Canada’s service Hope for Wellness Help Line has experienced a 178% increase in calls when compared to the same period last year.

"The full impact of COVID-19 on the mental health and wellness of Indigenous peoples and communities will likely not be fully appreciated until long after we emerge from the pandemic," Miller said.

Read more on CBC Indigenous.