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Métis youth and adults in B.C. will have additional access to much-needed mental health services with the unveiling of new funding for counselling, and a new pilot program for Youth delivered through the Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services (LMO).

As noted in the Province of B.C.’s recent inquiry into Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination in B.C. Health Care, Métis people (18+) in B.C. are nearly twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to have five or more health conditions. They are also nearly 40% more likely to suffer from depression. The two programs announced today will aim to address the effects of mental health issues, many of which are deep-rooted in historic, systemic and ongoing racism, while also addressing the backlog of patients awaiting counselling, which has surged since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The first mental health program Métis Counselling Connection will see $300,000 allocated to provide Métis people with up to 10 counselling sessions with counsellors, psychologists or psychiatrists registered through the BC Psychological Association, College of Psychologists of BC, BC Association of Clinical Counsellors, Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, or BC Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. To apply for the program, citizens or self-identified Métis people are asked to login to MNBC’s website’s COVID-19 Program Portal. Approved applicants will receive a letter authorizing mental health care practitioners to invoice MNBC directly for the sessions.

“Our Métis Citizens have long identified the critical need for access to mental health services,” said Dr. Kate Elliott, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Mental health services are often viewed a luxury of extended health plans and Métis people have not been given equitable support as it pertains to mental well-being. Through this funding and the pilot program with LMO, we have an opportunity make the first steps towards a real difference in the mental health and future of Métis people across the province.”

The second program will see Métis Nation BC (MNBC) provide $125,000 to LMO in Kamloops to provide culturally safe and trauma-informed mental health services to Métis youth between 15 and 29 years old. The services, which will be delivered through a new Métis Youth Counsellor hired through this program, will be available to youth province-wide (citizens and self-identified) and provided through in-person and virtual    sessions. To apply to the program, youth or their families are asked to login to MNBC ’s website’s COVID-19 Program Portal. Approved applicants will be directed to their applicable regional health coordinator, who will help them with the referral process. Once that intake limit has been reached, approved applicants will be moved to a wait list and will be eligible to apply for the Métis Counseling Connection program so their need is not left unmet.

“Having culturally-safe, Métis-specific counselling available to our youth is extremely important, especially during these challenging times,” said Colleen Lucier, Executive Director, LMO. “We know the demand for youth services is high, right across the province. Through this pilot program, Métis Youth Connection, we’re building on the excellent working relationship we have with MNBC to address a chronically underfunded and too often overlooked gap in our health care system.”

About Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services (LMO)

LMO is a fully delegated Métis child and family services agency providing child protection and a full continum of culturally safe and trauma informed preventative services to the Métis population in Secwépemcul'ecw (Kamloops and surrounding area). With the support and guidance of an active Michif Elders Council, LMO is committed to developing and delivering child protection, early childhood development, family support, youth support, child and youth mental health (CYMH) and supportive housing services that are grounded in the principles of reconciliation as well as our Métis values and teachings that have kept our families and communities strong and resilient for generations. It is an honour to work with MNBC to extend our CYMH services to other members of our Métis Community through the Métis Youth Connection program.