Mental Wellness

Need for Improved Health Services in Our North

Access to proper health services continues to be an issue in Northern and remote communities. Issues relating to adequate health infrastructure and inability to access trained health practitioners continues to impact the health of citizens in MKO Nations. In spite of these obstacles, MKO staff continue to work diligently towards improving health services in our North.

COVID-19 Mental Health Resources

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) and Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. (KIM) are collaborating with Mental Wellness Services in Manitoba to support Northern First Nations’ leadership and Health Directors during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Feelings of distress, anxiety, fear, and grief can heighten as Manitoba communities practice social and physical distancing during this unprecedented health crisis. In response to the need for people to access mental wellness support and service during COVID-19, mental wellness teams and programs have adapted their methods of communication and will respond through virtual means to continue serving those coping with suicide attempts, completed suicides, homicide, multiple deaths, trauma due to violent assault, or other serious events that impact many people.

Each Wellness Team is committed to:

  • Providing confidential mental wellness support with a culturally safe and trauma-informed care approach to all Manitoba First Nations on and off reserve.
  • Ensuring all services and on-call crisis responses are accessible via telephone or text with various services, including virtual support with FaceTime and/or Zoom video conferencing, where applicable.
  • Ensuring their mental wellness team members and health care providers are trained to help manage an individual’s mental health during COVID-19.
  • Sharing the most current and accurate information-based facts from provincial and federal public health authorities.
  • Staying informed of safety measures during COVID-19, as guided by the Province of Manitoba Chief Public Health Officer and public health authorities.

To access a full list of mental wellness resources available for First Nations in Manitoba, please click here.

Report on Mental Wellness

A report called Mental Wellness Teams Comprehensive Needs Assessement: Validation of Findings Based on Key Informant Interviews and Focus Groups.

Throughout this comprehensive needs assessment, Mental Wellness Teams thoughtfully expressed a range of realistic needs which reflect their unique service requirements based on:

  • gaps in the mental health system and policy environment;
  • the level of under-serviced community circumstances coupled with high service needs due to the multi-generational impacts of colonialism on metal well-being;
  • rural and isolated geography with vast catchment areas;
  • governance models and their stage of development; and
  • strengths and cultural assets.

Mobile Wellness Teams provide services in a complex and high needs environment, where there is generally little access to appropriate mental wellness services for First Nations people and where highly qualified mental wellness workers and professionals are urgently needed to support multi-generational healing. Compounding this situation, such workers and professionals are in short supply and are difficult to attract and retain.

You can access the full report in PDF format by clicking here.

What We Do

The Health Advisor manages files, writes correspondence, attends meetings, prepares briefings for MKO leadership, and drafts proposals for funding. As well, health staff attend MKO Executive Meetings and MKO Chiefs Assemblies to present and respond to health issues. MKO leadership and staff are committed to working towards facilitating the MKO mandate in pursuing matters of social justice in the area of health as well as promoting and advancing Treaty rights. This includes pursuing innovative ideas that will lead towards greater sovereignty related to our health.

Regular advocacy also takes place with First Nations citizens who have the most contentious cases being handled by the Office of the Grand Chief. Sensitive cases involved families impacted significantly by policy decisions and action or inaction of the health system resulting in either harm or death.

MKO continues to work to realize improved health services in our north. Some key files are:

  • Intergovernmental Committee on First Nation Health: MKO regularly attended the meetings of the ICMFNH and Senior Officials Steering Committee. The fiscal year focused on leadership, finalization of a follow up paper on fiscal analysis, as well as focused health issues.
  • Governance – MKO has consistently sought to gain control over the health services in our Northern communities as support through MKO resolutions. Progress is slow but the efforts continue.
  • Patient Navigators – MKO received funding to create two positions of Non-Insured Health Benefits Navigators. The positions are based in Winnipeg. The objective is to have people visible and available to assist patients navigate thru the medical system when on medical travel.
  • Political Unity Accord on Health: MKO continues to work on achieving consistency and support with other PTOs such as AMC and SCO, but has also had strategic meetings with MMF and other PTOs on issues of commonality.
  • Regional health authorities: MKO has resumed collaborative work with the Northern Regional Health Authority.
  • Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) collaboration: MKO is a partner with the SCO on their HSIF initiative to test a Framework for Adaptation developed out of the SCO/WRHA Adaptation program. The key focus is next steps and development of a toolkit as well as evaluation and report on successes and applications.
  • Women: MKO Health assists in preparing strategies and attending meetings relative to women’s health and women’s issues.
  • Manitoba First Nation Technology Council: MKO has tried to maintain representation on the Council, however, due to the complex and specific skill set required in the field of technology, consistent representation is a challenge. More focus has been spent on this due to the scope and implications of the development of technology infrastructure.

For more information, please contact Rene Linklater at [email protected]