Good Day. We hope that everyone is staying safe and well. FNT2T Life Long Learning has been looking at various emotional and mental health resources available during these unprecedented times in living with covid-19. It is completely normal to feel a bit anxious, this is human response. What is important to remember when seeking some help or support is that any diagnosis should come only from a trusted health professional, avoid self-diagnosing, and remain kind, gentle, and understanding with the self at the same time. Take time for self-care. Seek support that is safe and comfortable for individual needs whether that be with a trusted family member, Elder, Knowledge-Keeper or counsellor. It is important for First Nations (Indigenous) peoples to have supports that are also culturally-relevant.
Below is a short list of resources (not affiliated with FNT2T) that may offer some support as everyone works together to stay well and healthy – physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally:
Anxiety Canada offers many covid-19 resources including their own free phone app called MindShift. The app offers some “grounding techniques” when feeling anxious including counting backwards from 100, describing surroundings (5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste), and noticing the body (feel where you are sitting/standing, your feet on the floor, your back against the chair, and your chest rising and falling with each breath). It also offers some great relaxing breathing techniques. Here is a link: https://www.anxietycanada.com/covid-19/.
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has numerous resources available including those in Manitoba and Winnipeg. They offer the Bounce Back program, which is not a counselling or crisis program, but designed for self-management and low-intensity intervention for both adults and youth seeking support (“coaching”) in managing life skills, stress, low moods, and/or some anxiety. Bounce Back is free and available online. It is recommended that those interested take the time to read over materials and programs to ensure it is a good fit for needs, or ask a trusted friend or adult to help seek out more information. The Bounce Back notes that if participants do not feel it is a good fit for them that they can opt-out of the program at any time. CMHA also offers numerous free online webinars and courses in topics involving emotional and mental health such as “Exploring Spirituality”, “Don’t Stress About Stress,” and “Challenging Loneliness & Isolation for Older Adults,” to name just a few. Most recently, CMHA posted a new toolkit for Back to School During Covid-19 for Grades 4-9. There are many other resources listed on the CMHA website: https://mbwpg.cmha.ca.
First Peoples Wellness Circle is rooted in the Native Mental Health Association of Canada (NMHAC). They have multiple information sheets regarding covid-19 and mental wellness, Elders, parents & children, health professionals, virtual care & support, funeral planning, and domestic violence. Additionally, they offer National Virtual Gatherings with Mental Wellness Teams on topics such as traditional medicines, land-based healing during covid-19, supporting young children & youth, and birthing/pregnancy. These are available on the website under the covid-19 information tab: https://www.fpwc.ca/covis-19-resources.
Hope for Wellness is an online chat counselling service. The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. If asked, counsellors can also work with you to find other wellness supports that are available near you. Phone and chat counselling is available. On request, phone counselling is also available in Cree, Ojibwe (dialect not specified), and Inuktitut. https://www.hopeforwellness.ca
Indigenous Health Today by NationTalk offers the First Nations Heath Manager Association (FNHMA) Virtual Town Hall every week. It entails an information session & Q+A every Thursday to discuss the effects of the pandemic on affecting health managers, front line health workers, and First Nations communities, It is free and open to all health managers, front line health workers, First Nation Community members and the general public who are looking for transparent, clear information and advice related to COVID-19 – whether your Community is affected or not. They offer opportunities to email in questions that are answered during the virtual town hall. Here is the link: https://www.ihtoday.ca/townhall. The website also notes that the show is streamed on NCI and APTN. Past shows are available online for viewing. This week’s guests were Dr. Tom Wong, Executive Director & Chief Medical Officer of Public Health for Indigenous Services Canada; Dr. Brenda Restoule, Chief Executive Officer, First Peoples Wellness Circle; and Carol Hopkins, Executive Director of Thunderbird Partnership Foundation.
Indigenous Services Canada has Mental Health Counselling Benefits under the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program for those who are eligible. Those who are eligible for the counselling benefits include a First Nations person who is registered under the Indian Act (commonly referred to as a ‘status Indian’). Services can be paid directly to the provider (counsellor) and receipts used for reimbursement through Express Scripts Canada; however, there are service providers (counsellors) registered with Express Scripts who offer direct-billing to NIHB. For more information visit the Indigenous Services Canada Indigenous Health website: https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1576441552462/1576441618847. Express Links Canada also has its own website for more information: https://nihb.express-scripts.ca/NIHBProvider/benefits/client. Manitoba First Nations residents who are eligible for the program can call (toll free) 1-800-665-8507 for more information regarding eligible care providers (counsellors) and direct-billing, neither website seems to have a list of registered care providers who offer direct billing with Express Links. Many mental health service providers are offering virtual and phone appointments at this time.
Manitoba Government just posted a new program called the Mental Health Virtual Therapy Program. It offers help to Manitobans age 16 or older who are coping with mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety and it includes two free counselling sessions: https://manitoba.ca/covid19/bewell/virtualtherapy.html. The site also has links to self-guided learning models in well-being for those who may not feel therapy is right for them.
Prairie Mountain Health Region also has its own listing of resource and supports including toll-free numbers for those who may require more immediate (or emergency) support: https://www.prairiemountainhealth.ca/index.php/mental-health.
Shared Health Manitoba has numerous resources listed on their website: https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/providers/mental-health-resources/.
None of the above listed resources are affiliated with FNT2T. It is always important and recommended that individuals conduct their own research based on their individual needs, take time to read materials and programs to ensure it is a good fit and/or ask a trusted friend or adult to help seek out more information.
No one is alone during this time so please reach out to someone you know today. Caring for ourselves and one another is an act of resistance. Loving ourselves is an act of resistance. Resist and revitalize. Miigwetch!