The rationale for developing a programme of services by and for Indigenous men in a First Nations community

What you need to know

While mental well-being is recognized as a significant public health priority in many Indigenous communities, little work has focused on the mental health needs of Indigenous men. Researchers analyzed the results from two studies conducted in Kettle & Stony Point First Nation, an Indigenous community in southern Ontario, Canada. They found that the effects of colonization, such as loss of language, loss of cultural identity and loss of spirituality, all led to anger, rage and frustration, as well as substance use and mental health challenges in the men in this community.

 

This Research Snapshot looks at the article, "The rationale for developing a programme of services by and for Indigenous men in a First Nations community,” which was published in AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples in 2019. Read it below or download the PDF.

Research Snapshots are brief, clear language summaries of research articles, presented in a user-friendly format.

What is this research about? 

Research shows that mental health issues and suicide affect a greater proportion of Indigenous communities, especially their men, than non-Indigenous populations across Canada. Canada’s Mental Health Strategy recognizes the mental health challenges in Indigenous communities by coordinating mental wellness services for and by Indigenous Peoples. Yet, the strategy does not address gender. Researchers conducted this study to bridge this knowledge gap and highlight the specific mental health needs and concerns of First Nations men.

What did the researchers do?

The researchers analyzed data from two studies conducted with First Nations men in Kettle & Stony Point First Nation:

1. A survey was administered to 366 participants, 151 of whom were men, to identify supports and services accessed by people who experience challenges related to mental health, substance and/or violence issues. The survey included culturally specific questions on historical loss, racism and the impacts of residential/Indian day schools.

2. A series of interviews were conducted with 24 men who had experienced mental health, substance and/or violence issues, as well as 14 family members of people who had experiences with mental health, substance and/or violence issues. The interviews identified barriers to accessing services, positive supports and services for men with mental health and substance use problems or violence.

What did the researchers find?

The men experienced and identified several challenges associated with mental health, substance and/or violence issues. These challenges were related to the effects of colonization, such as loss of language, loss of cultural identity and loss of spirituality.

The men did not see themselves as carrying a significant role within their families or community. They did not experience any mentoring or teachings in their younger years. The researchers found that when the men sought help for their physical or emotional needs, they experienced numerous financial and systemic barriers, such as racism and discrimination.

The researchers also found that men are more comfortable seeking help, supports or services from people, especially men, who are trained to use culturally safe practices, and in settings where Indigenous staff are visible. They also prefer approaches that focus on their ability to achieve wellness despite adversity through individual, family and community strength, such as cultural identity, engagement in traditional activities and social supports.

Limitations and next steps

One limitation identified by the researchers is that the participants from the Kettle & Stony Point First Nation were not involved in the secondary analysis of the data shared in the research paper.

How can you use this research?

This research provides insight into the challenges that some Indigenous men face related to mental health, substance and/or violence issues. Service providers and program and policy developers can use this study to better understand the experiences of men with these challenges and to develop innovative wellness supports, services and strategies that are specific to their needs and concerns.

About the researchers

Julie George,1,2 Melody Morton Ninomiya,1,3 Kathryn Graham,1,4,5,6 Sharon Bernards,1 and Samantha Wells1,4,5,7

  1. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. Kettle & Stony Point Health Centre, Kettle & Stony Point First Nation, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. Health Sciences, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  4. Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  5. School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  6. National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  7. Western University, London, Ontario, Canada

Keywords 

Boys and men, mental health, Indigenous, health services, First Nations

This Research Snapshot is based on the article, “The rationale for developing a programme of services by and for Indigenous men in a First Nations community,” which was published in AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples in 2019. This summary was written by Maryan Warsame. https://doi.org/10.1177/1177180119841620