Assembly of First Nations Emphasizes Importance of Collaborative Approach of National Mental Health Strategy

OTTAWA, May 8, 2012 /CNW/ - During Mental Health Week in Canada, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo expressed support for the National Mental Health Strategy announced today in Ottawa by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

"We are proud of First Nation contributions to this important strategy that we hope will act as a guide to continued engagement with government on this priority area and others in closing the gap in mental wellness services for First Nations," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.  "By working together in respect and partnership, we've been better able to ensure respect for Indigenous identities, strengthen support for First Nation governments, and continue to urge all levels of government to help drive change based on strategic investments and specific targets for progress."

Developed with input from the Assembly of First Nations, the "Mental Health Strategy for Canada" aims to promote positive mental health, including the prevention of mental illness and the provision of services and supports to foster recovery. The Strategy highlights the importance of strategic investment and clear indicators of progress in achieving change, and further calls on all levels of government, including First Nation governments, to work together to address the many complex issues that impact the mental health and wellness of First Nations.

Specifically, AFN worked together with MHCC to ensure distinct streams of care and services for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.  The approach respects the inherent rights, needs and important differences in the cultures and histories of each distinct group. As outlined in Strategy #5, in their recommendations for action, the MHCC acknowledges that in order to move forward as a country, we must together "close critical gaps in the continuum of mental wellness services, treatments and supports for First Nations, including traditional, cultural, and mainstream approaches."

AFN continues to identify opportunities and make recommendations for improved and equitable health care and health services for First Nations, particularly given renewal discussions for the 2004 Health Accord are ongoing.  The current joint Health Accord is set to expire 2014.

For more information on Mental Health Week: May 7-13 visit the Canadian Mental Health Association or


For further information:

Jenna Young, Assembly of First Nations Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or email

Alain Garon, Assembly of First Nations Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613-2920857 or email

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