Note: Excludes persons living on Indian reserves or settlements.
Source: CICH graphic created using data adapted from Statistics Canada. Table 577-0013 – Aboriginal Peoples Survey, perceived mental health and suicidal thoughts, by Aboriginal identity, age group and sex, population aged 18 years and over, Canada, provinces and territories, occasional.
In 2012, the majority of Indigenous youth reported that their mental health was excellent, very good or good.
Among all three Indigenous groups – First Nations, Métis and Inuk (Inuit) – young men were more likely than young women to say that their mental health was excellent or very good; 65% of Métis males aged 18 to 24 years and 60% of females said their mental health was excellent or very good.
This compares to 61% of First Nations males and 53% of First Nations females, and 49% of Inuit males and 42% of Inuit females.
In all cases, a small proportion of Indigenous youth reported that their mental health was fair or poor.
Understanding the mental health of Indigenous children and youth requires considering both the underlying social determinants of health and the protective factors that promote children’s resilience at the individual, family, community and societal levels. The relationship between the mental health of Indigenous children and youth and social determinants like inadequate housing, food insecurity, poverty, social exclusion and lack of access to health services is well documented. However, it is also important to consider the influence of historic and contemporary manifestations of colonialism as the broadest and most fundamental determinant of the mental health of Indigenous children and youth. Protective factors such as spending time on the land, self-government, band control over education and health services, and the presence of cultural facilities are all protective factors that can positively influence mental health.1 Engaging in community practices that preserve, rehabilitate and develop the cultural continuity of Indigenous communities have been demonstrated to decrease youth suicide rates in Indigenous communities.2
1Atkinson, D. (2017). Considerations for Indigenous child and youth population mental health promotion in Canada. Ottawa, ON: National Collaborating Centres for Public Health.
2Chandler, M. & Lalonde, C. (1998). Cultural continuity as a hedge against suicide in Canada’s First Nations. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/136346159803500202 -accessed November 14, 2018.