Valuing Indigenous Emotional Wellness — Reviewing programs to enhance support for children in rural and remote communities
One of the most sustained consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic will be its impact on emotional wellness (or mental health). Indigenous children at much higher risk of emotional health issues than their non-Indigenous peers. Health leaders must rapidly prepare to manage the emerging emotional health pandemic among Indigenous children. The main goal of this project is to create program resources geared to Indigenous children in rural and remote regions of Canada. This population is uniquely vulnerable, will be heavily impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, and lacks access to health supports that most Canadians take for granted. This project has two phases. In Phase I, we will review all available information on emotional wellness programs. We will: (a) assess each program’s relevance to Indigenous children, (b) determine the program’s feasibility in the context of rural and remote communities, and (c) document the level of evidence of the program’s effectiveness. We are aware that improving the spectrum of services available will be pointless if stigma continues to prevent children from accessing support. Thus, in Phase II, we will create a positive messaging strategy that normalizes and prioritizes emotional health. This project will create new information for leaders, that is grounded in both evidence and culture, tailored for their use and easy to access, including: •tips sheets that summarize information about each program, •a repository of reference materials, and •positive messaging materials to reduce stigma. Our results will inform enhancements to stepped care, support children’s emotional wellness, and prevent crises. We will share the results broadly through the [www.ACHWM.ca](http://www.ACHWM.ca) partner portal to aid communities as they work to promote wellness and recovery for school-aged Indigenous children during and following Covid-19.