An Indigenous-led Partnership with Primary and Acute Care to Address Mental Health System Gaps Exacerbated by the Covid-19 Pandemic: From Indigenous patient navigation to lasting systemic change.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Response and Impact Grant (Co-RIG) Program: Phase II focuses on innovations and initiatives that prepare family physicians and their interprofessional teams to cope with challenges related to the pandemic and its long-term impact.
“Wellness in Indigenous communities and cultures is about being in balance and harmony. Within Indigenous communities, health is about the whole person. It is about mind, emotions, body, and spirit.” – Canadian Mental Health Association
Dr. Danusia Gzik and the Primacy Care Network, in partnership with the Mamaway Wiidokdaadwin Primary Care Team and Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH), lead this week’s feature project: An Indigenous-led Partnership with Primary and Acute Care to Address Mental Health System Gaps Exacerbated by the Covid-19 Pandemic: From Indigenous patient navigation to lasting systemic change.
This project provides interdisciplinary, cultural-based services within the most vulnerable Indigenous communities in North Simcoe and Muskoka, Ontario. This project is being done in response to the dual vulnerability experienced by Indigenous populations due to COVID-19 and the resulting mental health and addictions issues.
The team is bringing interconnectivity and creating sustainable pathways to a single-point of access for culturally safe, trauma-informed mental health and addictions care. The program takes a two-pronged approach:
- Bringing together family physicians and mental health workers to build relationships and networks between primary care and regional Indigenous health services
- Embedding Indigenous mental health and addictions patient navigator support into mental health programs at the RVH in Barrie, Ontario
This project has already received positive feedback from family physicians at the grassroots level and the RVH. Its success is visible in the testimonials from mental health and addiction workers who have spent extensive time with patients and understand the need for access to holistic health care.
“It is transformational for Indigenous people to have access to mental health and addiction support in their own community, to have service navigation offered from the Indigenous way of knowing to create warm, meaningful connections with services to help achieve mino bimaadiziwin (the good life). This program has shown that there is great need for this support and the community has embraced the service wholeheartedly.”- Jenn Barton, Indigenous Mental Health and Addictions worker