Canada’s Premiers Announce Recipients of the Award for Innovation in Mental Health and Addictions Care


Recipients of the COF Award for Innovation in Mental Health and Addictions Care

Day Treatment Mental Health and Addictions Program – Kainai Wellness Centre (Blood Tribe Department of Health) – Alberta
Blood Tribe members have been affected by opioid and other substance use in the community. The Day Treatment Mental Health and Addictions Program, founded in 2014, involves a qualified team, innovative approaches that address deep rooted issues, the wisdom of elders and knowledge keepers, and traditional ceremonies as part of their approach. The program is designed to provide awareness, education, and support to those who are suffering with illicit substance and alcohol use disorders who are not attending residential treatment programs. Clients acquire a variety of skills to cope with drug and alcohol related urges. The program shares resources on several key topics: addiction awareness, physiology of addiction, relapse prevention, grief and loss, trauma, compassion fatigue, anger management, healthy parenting, healthy relationships, and coping techniques, among others. To date, over 341 participants have benefitted from this program, and there has been healing at the individual, family and community level.

Cherokee Bent – British Columbia
Cherokee Bent was born on the unceded and traditional lands of the Nlaka’pamux people. At 18 years old, Cherokee felt called through her cultural teachings to become a leader in Vancouver’s mental health and substance use recovery communities, with involvement in both adult and youth treatment centres. Through her work with Vancouver Coastal Health, Cherokee has designed and delivered curricula to healthcare providers about providing culturally safe care to youth who use substances and teaching healthcare providers how to better work with Indigenous youth from rural and remote communities. Cherokee has co-written and starred in an educational film used to teach healthcare workers about using cultural safety and humility when working with people who use substances.

KIDTHINK Children’s Mental Health Centre Inc. – Manitoba
KIDTHINK provides a model of care that includes psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, occupational therapists, and other professionals to create a truly multi-disciplinary team that works together to give children and their families the highest standard of care.  Within the Client Care Subsidy Program, the KIDTHINK multi-disciplinary clinical team provides approximately 13 hours of no-cost, evidence-based mental health intervention for children ages 12 and under and their families who are low-income status. This includes providing services for a variety of mild to moderate social, emotional, and behavioural challenges. Mental health disorders or challenges addressed include, but are not limited to, anxiety, depression, behavioural disorders, ADHD and learning difficulties/disabilities. KIDTHINK recognizes the importance of reducing barriers to accessing mental health services, the focus is on providing timely and preventative interventions by offering services to children with or without a diagnosis.

St. John’s Status of Women Council Managed Alcohol Program (MAP) – Newfoundland and Labrador
The Managed Alcohol Program in Newfoundland and Labrador is a pilot that began in 2021. The program operates within the St. John’s Status of Women Council to assist women and nonbinary individuals who experience risks and harms related to alcohol use. MAP’s harm reduction approach provides a safe and stable supply of alcohol to participants, along with social and healthcare support. MAP works with Eastern Health to assess participant eligibility, determine a safe dose of alcohol, and provide ongoing reassessment and primary healthcare services. While managed alcohol programs are increasingly recognized as valuable tools, the St. John’s Status of Women Council’s MAP is unique in its focus on women and nonbinary individuals and offers an innovative mix of outreach delivery, residential programming, and satellite site pick-up alongside research and learning. In addition to direct benefits to participants, MAP shares learnings from this pilot widely with the aim to increase managed alcohol services across other organizations and for more populations. MAP has created a model of collaboration across services that can set an example for others interested in pursuing similar work.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Tele-Counselling for Family Caregivers – Dr. Pamela Durepos, Nicole Cormier, Chandra MacBean – New Brunswick
The Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Tele-counselling for family caregivers of a person living with dementia in New Brunswick was developed and launched by Dr. Pamela Durepos of the University of New Brunswick, and Nicole Cormier and Chandra MacBean of the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick. The ACT tele-counselling program is also the first ACT program for caregivers of persons with dementia in Canada and its overall aim is to improve access to high quality mental health services (e.g., psychotherapy) for all caregivers of persons with dementia in Canada. More specifically, ACT is an individualized program that screens participants for current depression, anxiety, and stress levels in order to identify persons who cannot wait for therapy and may require immediate mental health care. This service is provided in both official languages at no cost using technology (such as telephone, text, or videoconference) in order to reduce barriers to access and to assess whether participants are assigned to receive usual care or the ACT program. ACT is an acceptance and mindfulness-based form of psychotherapy different from cognitive behavioural therapy. ACT has proven effective at reducing depression and anxiety and in increasing acceptance and psychological flexibility. A study to evaluate the potential benefits and feasibility of providing ACT tele-counselling to caregivers is underway. The program is expected to expand beyond New Brunswick.

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