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I have been thinking about our students and my colleagues.

I keep hearing about mental health in the news, that the pandemic is doing some damage in that area. Just this week, I read that Quebec announces $25M in mental health funding as demand increases. For myself, it is a huge change and challenge for me to be doing almost all of my work alone, with my 9-year old child as my only companion.

And I think, what about our students who may be alone at home, or who may also be caring for young children and aging relatives? For many of them, the centre was a safe, stable place where they could focus on their learning. What about our teachers in the same situations? So the area of mental wellness in Indigenous communities is becoming very important for me.

Mental Wellness Resources for Indigenous Communities

When I search for Indigenous wellness resources, most are focused on addiction or trying to solve a specific problem. These are important and most of them talk about the importance of reaching out and connecting with others.

It is very important that if you, your students, or colleagues are experiencing specific difficulties related to addiction, self harm, or other traumas, that you reach out to organizations that can help with that. You can find many of them that are geared towards members of Indigenous communities here: Mental Health and Wellness in First Nations and Inuit Communities

Aside from those very specific difficulties, I realized that as I was researching mental wellness resources, it was difficult to find anything else. Not all mental wellness has to do with addiction or self-harm. Sometimes, we feel sad and lonely and we also need ways to face those emotions.

And sometimes we need practices to nurture our wellness during difficult times.

What about COVID-19?

And then there are the feelings we have that are specifically related to living during the COVID-19 pandemic.

APTN has some pretty solid suggestions, accompanied by videos with advice from people who know what they are talking about, like Dr Nel Wieman. Scroll down to the Questions and Answers section on the APTN COVID-19 page to find them.

Indigenous Well-Being in the Times of COVID-19

The Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health of the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto are developing a resource for well-being in the context of COVID-19.

It could be worthwhile to bring some of these practices to our students, in collaboration with school or community counselors, during our lessons or during virtual community gatherings. Can you imagine some ways that you, your colleagues, your communities, and your students could do this?

There are accompanying resources, freely available to everyone here.

Indigenous Wellbeing in the time of COVID-19: Four Directions Virtual Support Hub, made available via the Women’s College Hospital Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health, Toronto, Ontario.

Sharing info with students and colleagues

Back when we were all in buildings, there was a bulletin board for sharing information about mental health and other resources. But now, with many of us learning and working from home, these bulletin boards no longer exist.

How can we continue to provide this kind of information and support to the students in our centres? Have you thought about this with your colleagues?

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