Many Indigenous groups are currently faced with exceptional stressors associated with the COVID crisis, unmarked graves at former Indian Residential School sites, and climate change impacts on communities that are causing new and old traumas to resurface. Frontline mental health staff are receiving an overwhelming increase in calls for support from those affected and were met with intense grief and loss from communities from coast to coast to coast.
The Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) model has become a tool to help manage stress with First Responders after critical events. However, there is a need for a culturally-based model that understands the complex and multi-layered lived experiences of stress or trauma that workers have experienced themselves.
In January 2022, FPWC invited a group of Indigenous leaders in mental wellness services to explore documenting an Indigenous approach to Crisis Debriefing that would be rooted in culture while respecting the cultural differences among Indigenous peoples and communities.
The people for whom we are designing the model will include:
- Indigenous people, specifically First Nations and Métis people
- Frontline providers and leadership who respond to crisis and come with multiple roles in their communities
- Natural helpers and other supportive community members, such as knowledge keepers and Elders
- Volunteers who often include cultural support workers/Elders
- All providers who encounter clients with mental health and addictions (e.g., shelters, etc.)
Based on feedback received from the advisory group, FPWC is currently in the process of organizing focus groups with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and language speakers to further understand how this Indigenous Crisis Debriefing Model (ICDM) can be formulated. The knowledge shared from the focus groups will support the development of a strengths-based model that will be shared from coast to coast to coast for communities to personalize and implement.