New training programs created by the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council aim to help Indigenous health and wellness employees who experience emotional stress working on the frontlines.
Many Indigenous non-profit organizations report their employees struggle to manage stress-related burnout and the emotional impact of working through the overdose crisis. Employees working at agencies that serve families who have lost loved ones due to overdose often experience grief, thinking they could have done more.
“We know Indigenous people are disproportionately affected by the overdose crisis, and this includes frontline support workers,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “We want all the people dealing with the trauma of this devastating crisis to get the support and services they need to combat the ongoing impacts of such substantive loss. By addressing some of the root cause of physical and psychological pain experienced by frontline workers, we can provide pathways to healing for these employees, as well as the people and communities they care for.”
The Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation has contributed $122,000 to the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council to develop training programs to help build a healthier urban Indigenous community and workforce. The council has spent the past few months examining training programs that incorporate Indigenous cultural interventions to address stress from trauma-related work. They have outlined 16 areas that can build capacity for frontline workers carrying out emotionally charged work, particularly related to the overdose crisis.
“Agency staff are burning out and trying to keep hope alive,” said Kevin Barlow, CEO, Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council. “This investment into urban Indigenous people in Metro Vancouver is a major lifeline at a time when many Indigenous organizations are struggling to respond to the overdose crisis.”
A portion of the funding is being used by the council to introduce a three-day Self-Care for Frontline Workers workshop to help reduce the number of employees experiencing emotional stress and burnout. The workshop focuses on nurturing compassion and resilience for employees, as well as supporting their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. In this way, Indigenous employees who work closely with families and individuals impacted by the overdose crisis can be successful and contribute to healthy workplaces and communities.
- The Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council is a coalition that provides support to urban indigenous agencies, who in turn support the urban Indigenous community through direct services.
- In addition to developing these training programs, a portion of the funding provides the council with additional space, consulting fees and other administration costs.
- First Nations are disproportionately affected by the overdose crisis, with 10% of all overdose deaths and 14% of all overdose events in B.C. involving First Nations – despite the fact that they represent just 3.4% of the population.
- B.C. is investing $322 million over the next three years in actions to save lives, end stigma and improve access to services for people living with addiction.
- The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is working across government and with community agencies and families, to develop a comprehensive strategy to improve mental health and addictions care that will focus on prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery, with a specific focus on Indigenous peoples.
B.C. has provided the First Nations Health Authority with $20 million over three years to address the ongoing impacts of the overdose public-health emergency: http://ow.ly/WFG430leWXz
The First Nations Health Authority Wellness team reached 126 First Nations communities with Indigenous harm-reduction training, which includes Take Home Naloxone training: http://ow.ly/IP6x30leSHw
A memorandum of understanding between the governments of Canada, B.C. and the First Nations Health Council highlights the shared commitment on improving mental health and wellness services, supports and outcomes in B.C. First Nations: http://ow.ly/iO7L30leXbx