Image (front row, from left): Melissa Snowdon, Paydon Ritchie, Ningwakwe George, Cherylyn Kitchikake, Diane Johns; (back row): Sonya Roote, Mercedes Roote, Tricia Stevens; (missing) Shane Ritchie, Tina Roote
As part of a unique study collaboration between CAMH and Saugeen First Nation, CAMH's mobile research lab is providing a hub to gather knowledge that will inform the development of a community wellness strategy.
“Like many communities, Saugeen First Nation experiences issues with mental health, substance use and violence,” says Ningwakwe George, Field Coordinator on the project and member of Saugeen First Nations. “What affects one, affects all. We feel this, as a community, and we are endeavouring to address it as a community.
“We want Saugeen First Nation to be a safe, healthy and happy place for us all. We are taking an important step by participating in the CAMH project. The community provides the input; the community will devise solutions based on that input, and the community will benefit.”
Parked next to the James Mason Memorial Culture and Recreation Centre in Saugeen First Nation, the mobile lab is equipped with meeting and interview rooms, as well as computer stations for people to complete an online survey. Until February 2019, four research staff from Saugeen are interviewing community members and providing assistance in filling out the survey. The interviews and surveys are focused on people’s experiences related to mental health and substance use, as well as any supports, services, and/or programs they have tried to access.
This project was approved by Band Council and has a local Community Advisory Circle that oversees the research and project activities. The research findings from approximately 30 interviews and 200 to 300 surveys will be shared back to community members of Saugeen First Nation in the spring of 2019.
“At this point, community members will be part of a process to review key research findings to determine a priority area and develop a community mental wellness strategy for and by people who can relate to the priority area,” says Melody Morton Ninomiya, CAMH Project Scientist. This approach is known as participatory action research, where members of the community use arts-based methods to determine what is best for the community.
Saugeen First Nation is one of five First Nation communities participating in a larger project on community mental wellness strategies. Two communities have already identified their priority areas, including men’s mental health and youth depression and anxiety, while others are in the early stages of creating a Community Advisory Circle and reviewing interview and survey questions. The project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long- term Care’s Health System Research Fund and is led by co-Principal Investigators Samantha Wells, Julie George, and Renee Linklater at CAMH.
To find out more about this project, please contact Ningwakwe George, Field Coordinator in Saugeen First Nation (226-378-5416 or email@example.com) or Melody Morton-Ninomiya, Project Scientist (226-378-3891 or firstname.lastname@example.org).