Mental Health Aspirations in the North

Timothy Henderson, pictured here with his parents, was only 19 when he died from self-inflicted injuries.

Mental illness and suicide are proving to be prominent issues in the NWT.

Last week the coroner’s report was released for Timothy Henderson, a 19 year old Yellowknife boy who took his life in 2015.

Timothy had sought treatment in Yellowknife on multiple occasions, but what he received was in a word, inadequate.

The report showed Henderson did not appear to be getting the care he needed, which seems to be becoming a prevailing theme among suicide victims in the North.

In an effort to help combat this devastating trend, Health Minister Glen Abernethey says officials are working closely with youth throughout the territory to find solutions that work.

“We’ve worked very closely with youth and organizations like FOXY and Smash to help validate some of the recommendations that are in that action plan.
To make sure that the youth voice is heard. And a lot of that is about community empowerment and working with communities and stakeholders, and that’s something we’re going to remain committed to doing.”

Each community has wellness workers that members can speak to if they have issues, but many migrate to the north and don’t stay for long, making it difficult for clients to build a strong, trusting relationship with counselors.Minister Abernethey says that homegrown counselors could be a way to build stronger relationships in the community.

“We’re working on a pilot right now with Deline to train local people to provide some degree of counseling. So getting local people to do some of the work and making sure the clients, or people who are struggling if you will, have somebody that they know will be there for a period of time.”

With two attempted youth suicides in Fort Resolution in the past month, this clearly continues to be a problem.Until tabled ideas are officially put into motion, wellness workers say the best thing to do is talk about mental illness.

About the Author

Owen Fullerton
Owen is brand new to the radio industry. Graduating from Niagara College in 2017 with a broadcasting for radio and TV diploma, Owen decided to start his career up here in the North. A huge sports fan, music junkie, and Netflix binge watcher, he is pretty talented at wasting an obscene amount of time on these things. Owen is excited to see what the North and CKLB radio has in store for him.

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