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Kusugak says he'll try to recruit more Inuit mental health counsellors

Lorne Kusugak front
Health Minister Lorne Kusugak says he wants to see more Inuit in roles as mental health counsellors to prevent suicide. photo courtesy of the legislative assembly

Health Minister Lorne Kusugak, who took over the portfolio last year, said Wednesday that he is aiming to improve mental health services during the remainder of his term this year.

"There are people that can respond or answer the phone who can speak Inuktitut, but proper mental health counselling, I believe, would help greatly if it was provided by a group of Inuit. I will make sure that I work hard to see this become a reality," Kusugak said in the legislative assembly. "Having discussions, having contact people, some mental health workers are very young. Usually the people who commit suicide are very young. I believe we have all been affected. They have bright futures ahead of them, and we don’t want to see the status quo."

Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser had opened the line of questioning, urging the health minister to ensure that there is a designated Inuk mental health contact in each community in the territory.

"Yes, a lot of us have been affected by suicide, and it’s something very hurtful to talk about. We would like to have a close working relationship with the minister so that there will be a contact person in every Nunavut community," said Netser, who acknowledged that there are crisis phone lines that people in distress can call as well.

About the Author: Derek Neary

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