Strengthening research in Aboriginal mental health

The work done by the Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research was featured in the Fall edition of JGH News, a publication of the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. Laurence Kirmayer founded the Network 15 years ago. Since then it has grown from a provincial to a national organization with ties to researchers around the world. An important function of the Network is training new researchers in sound and culturally responsive mental health and addiction-focused methodologies. In the article Dr. Kirmayer is quoted explaining the importance of culture in approaches to mental health: “Culture has to be part of the cure, but it can’t be done in a generic way. It has to be tailored to a community’s needs in reinforcing a person’s positive identity and sense of belonging.”

One researcher that has benefited from her collaboration with the Network is Morgan Kahentonni Philips, a Kahnawake resident of Mohawk descent. She has a B.A. and M.A. in anthropology from Concordia, but recently began a Ph.D. program in education at McGill University in part due to her work with the Network. As quoted in the JGH News article, she explains her motivation: “I realized how little is understood by mainstream people about indigenous societies… Now at McGill I’m helping to develop a curriculum for doctors who may have native patients, but may not truly understand them. It’s important for doctors to know, for instance, about their history of assimilation, the loss of language and the residential schools where their heritage was denied to them. Most of all, we want to remove the stereotypes.” If you would like to know more about or join the Network please visit the website.

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