Skip to content

GN responds to stinging mental health criticism from Representative of Children and Youth

Parents, schools, communities and all levels of government have a role to play in responding to mental health needs, the Government of Nunavut reiterated in the face of a public rebuke from the Representative of Children and Youth last week.

The Government of Nunavut acknowledged delays in responding to a mental health report from the Representative of Children and Youth, but cited “competing, urgent priorities” as the reason and added that progress has been made.
NNSL file photo

“The GN also stated that it will use the recommendations from Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) report to inform and revise government practices moving forward, to close gaps and guide future actions to benefit children and youth’s mental health,” reads a statement from the GN. “Since the report came out, GN departments have been in regular contact with the RCY and have provided detailed information on the ongoing work to address the report’s recommendations.”

Below are the recommendations where the territorial government highlighted its actions:

  • Recommendation 1:  Currently in development is the Power Series K to 12 Program. This program enhances all current programming in schools by providing skill-based social and emotional learning programming and resources for ilinniarvimmi inuusilirijiit to use with students. Power Series is being expanded to include grades 10 to 12 and the Department of Health is in the process of selecting culturally relevant materials for the corresponding resource kit. Power Series will be translated in all official languages and training will be provided to school staff prior to its implementation territory-wide in the 2021-2022 school year.
  • Recommendation 2: The Department of Education developed a crisis response manual that guides school staff in accessing mental health support services for their students.
  • Recommendation 3: The Department of Education is hiring a team lead for Aulajaaqtut to support the redesign of the Aulajaaqtut (health, wellness and physical education) curriculum, beginning with kindergarten to Grade 6, and extending to older grades. This would also include a mental health fitness component.
  • Recommendation 4: The Department of Education’s Education Support Services Directive was revised and finalized in July 2019 to align with the lnteragency Information Sharing Protocol as it relates to consent.
  • Recommendation 5: When out-of-territory mental health services for children and youth are required, (the Department of) Health has several mechanisms in place to ensure that service demands are reasonably met, and that children and youth can receive appropriate aftercare and follow-up when returning to their home communities.
  • Recommendation 8:  In an effort to clarify position titles, roles, responsibilities, and reporting structure of all mental health-related positions, the Department of Health has reviewed roles and the reporting structure and staff work to connect children and youth with services to fit their needs.
  • Recommendation 10: Nunavut Arctic College offers a two-year social service worker diploma program which prepares students for positions in mental health, youth work, social work, family services, addictions, and other various community programs. The curriculum offers four different courses that provide mental health components, three day mental health first aid for Inuit training, and practicums in a variety of mental health settings in Nunavut. A formal curriculum review will take place next year at which time there will be an opportunity to add mental health components to our curriculum.
  • Recommendation 15: The Department of Community and Government Services (CGS) is working with key departments (e.g. Culture and Heritage) in the development of sports and physical activity strategies and action plans that include children and youth. As part of this effort, CGS is committed to including the perspectives of Nunavut youth in determining broad priorities for sport, physical activity and recreation in the territory. A series of youth-oriented consultations are planned to ensure youth representatives have the opportunity to contribute their ideas and priorities in the development of the Sport and Physical Activity and Recreation Framework.

In response to the RCY’s criticism over the GN taking several months longer than deadline to respond to the recommendations, the government stated that it “has balanced competing, urgent priorities over the past several months, and while there have been some delays in responding to the report and in subsequent communication with the RCY, we remain committed to finding solutions together.”