Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 10, 2017 - 2:30 pm

On World Mental Health Day, “help is available,” Nunavut government says

But Gjoa Haven says its mental health issues need more attention

JANE GEORGE
The territorial mental health facility in Cambridge Bay has about a dozen residents and employs 23 people in the western Nunavut town of about 1,700. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
The territorial mental health facility in Cambridge Bay has about a dozen residents and employs 23 people in the western Nunavut town of about 1,700. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

CAMBRIDGE BAY—On World Mental Health Day, Oct, 10, Nunavut’s health department encourages Nunavummiut “to take care of ourselves and one another.”

“It is important to take care of your mind as you would your body. Let’s all do our part to support our friends’ and family’s mental health, and encourage one another to reach out for help in times of need. You are not alone. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health problem, help is available,” says the department’s public service announcement.

“Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, teacher, guidance counsellor or elder. Talk about how you feel and what you’re going through. Go to your local health centre to speak with a mental health worker.”

This reminder comes as mayors in Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region say they need mental health support in their regions.

At the recent mayors’ meeting in Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven Mayor Joanni Sallerina said people in his community of about 1,300 are suffering.

“It’s hard for families, especially in a small community when we have a lot of mental health issues,” Sallerina said.

Community members with mental health problems put additional pressure on already overcrowded households, he said.

This was the same message that the community’s MLA delivered last month in the legislature.

Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak, who is now running for re-election in the Oct. 30 territorial election, said a long string of deaths and violent incidents have left the residents of Gjoa Haven shell-shocked, and in critical need of a mental health facility that could provide respite to families and help for those who need it.

A health department representative, Monique Skinner, told Kitikmeot mayors Oct. 5 that Gjoa Haven already has two mental health nurses and that there’s a plan to hire more local mental health outreach workers throughout the region.

A residential mental health facility run by the territorial government now operates in Cambridge Bay, as well.

The Government of Nunavut approved $825,000 last month for renovations to make the facility—a former hostel for students—safer.

The GN, in its release on World Mental Health Day, said Nunavummiut in distress can call the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line for anonymous support 24 hours a day, at 867-979-3333 or toll free at 1-800-265-3333.

You can also visit Isaksimagit Inuusirmi Katujjiqaatigiit, the Embrace Life Council, here, for more information and support, or call the toll free line at 1-866-804-2782.

And if you or someone you know is in crisis, call the RCMP or go to your local health centre or hospital immediately, the GN advises.

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