The Mental Health of Aboriginal Peoples: Transformations of Identity and Community


Authors' Abstract:

“This paper reviews some recent research on the mental health of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis of Canada. We summarize evidence for the social origins of mental health problems and illustrate the ongoing responses of individuals and communities to the legacy of colonization. Cultural discontinuity and oppression have been linked to high rates of depression, alcoholism, suicide, and violence in many communities, with the greatest impact on youth. Despite these challenges, many communities have done well, and research is needed to identify the factors that promote wellness. Cultural psychiatry can contribute to rethinking mental health services and health promotion for Indigenous populations and communities.”

This article illustrates that colonial occupation by Europeans began in the sixteenth century; colonization did not end with Confederation, however, colonialism has persisted through the Federal and Provincial policies such as the reserve-system, relocations of communities to isolative locations, residential and day schools, gender discrimination and the oppression of Indigenous women, colonial violence, etc. The continued effects of these policies negatively impact Indigenous peoples’ mental health, which has resulted in heightened rates of suicide compared to white settler populations in Canada.

Publication Information

Kirmayer, Laurence J., Gregory M.Brass and Caroline L. "Tait. The Mental Health of Aboriginal Peoples: Transformations of Identity and Community." Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. September 2000, 607-616.

Kirmayer, Laurence J.
Brass, Gregory M.
Tait, Caroline L.
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