Smoked tea. Fire cooked bannock. A beautiful day. And friendly discussions.
These were among the highlights of the Mental Health Check-Up held at the new traditional gathering space behind the Inuvik Native Band Office Sept. 17.
Hosted by the Inuvik Mental Health Awareness Working Group, the gathering was both a follow-up to last week’s march for suicide awareness but also a chance to connect with people staying at the Warming and Homeless shelters in town.
But for many, it was just a good chance for Elders to get together and have some tea under the warm sun.
“It’s nice for us Elders to be able to get out of our homes,” said Shirley Andreasen.
Joining the group were representatives from Victims Services, Family Councilling services, Elder Supports, the Inuvik Band Office, the office of the Justice Coordinator and the RCMP.
Mental Health Working Group organizer Crystal Navratil said the gathering served as a handy way to get information about mental health services in the area.
“It’s for letting people know that support is available,” she said. “Any of us can put someone in the right direction, or make a few phone calls to get the ball rolling.
“There are also people who are trained Suicide Awareness, so we want to make sure people know they can reach out to them.”
There’s more mental health programming in the works for Inuvik as well. Although a date has not been set yet, a ‘Safe Talk’ session is being organized to help people improve their communication skills when talking to potentially suicidal individuals.
When a date is finalized, the sessions will be about tw0-and-a-half hours long and will be open to everyone.
“We’re trying to avoid people carrying out the act of suicide,” said Navratil. “So we’re letting people know there are people out there that care and want to help.
“It can start with a conversation. Making a phone call, reaching out to a family member or friend. Even if they don’t feel comfortable, whomever they’re talking to can make that phone call on their behalf and get the appropriate help that they need.”
If you feel suicidal and feel like there is no hope, help is available. Contact a friend, family member or if not able to, call one of these 24-hour phone lines.
• Hope for Wellness Helpline 1-855-242-3310
• Canada Suicide Prevention Service 1-833-456-4566 or text or chat @crisisservicescanada.ca
• National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255
• NWT Helpline 1-800-661-0844 and on facebook
• Kids Helpline 1-800-668-6868 or crisis text 686868