7 Trailblazing Indigenous Women in Mental Health You Need to Know About

As mental health continues to be an important topic of conversation, it’s crucial to highlight the voices of Indigenous women who are working to improve access and care for their communities. This article will introduce you to seven Indigenous women who significantly impact mental health. Through their work, these women are addressing the unique challenges faced by Indigenous communities and promoting healing and wellness.

Mental health is a critical issue affecting people worldwide, and Indigenous communities are no exception. However, there is a significant lack of mental health resources available to Indigenous communities, making it challenging to address their unique challenges. Fortunately, Indigenous women are working to promote healing and wellness in their communities. In this article, we will introduce you to seven Indigenous women in mental health who are leading the way in creating positive change.

Why is Mental Health an Important Issue for Indigenous Communities?

Mental health has long been a pressing issue for Indigenous communities. The effects of colonialism, forced assimilation, and the intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools have left lasting scars. These factors contribute to a high prevalence of mental health disorders and substance abuse among Indigenous peoples. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, suicide rates for Indigenous peoples are three times higher than non-Indigenous people.

Who are the 7 Indigenous Women in Mental Health You Need to Know?

  1. Dr. Cornelia Wieman – Dr. Wieman is a psychiatrist and advocates for Indigenous mental health. She is the current acting deputy chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia and the former President of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada.
  2. Dr. Pamela Williamson – Dr. Williamson is a clinical psychologist and a member of the Thunderbird Clan from the Haisla Nation. She is an Associate Professor of Indigenous Health and Wellness at the University of Northern British Columbia and has been working to improve Indigenous mental health for over 20 years.
  3. Tanya Kappo – Tanya Kappo is a Cree and Saulteaux lawyer who co-founded the Moosehide Campaign, a grassroots movement aimed at ending violence against Indigenous women and children. She strongly advocates for Indigenous self-determination and the importance of Indigenous-led mental health initiatives.
  4. Vanessa Ambtman-Smith – Vanessa Ambtman-Smith is a Nehiyaw Iskwew (Cree woman) social worker dedicated to improving Indigenous mental health. She is the Director of the Indigenous Wellness Clinic at the University of Alberta and strongly advocates for integrating Indigenous ways of knowing into mental health care.
  5. Dr. Brenda Restoule – Dr. Restoule is a member of the Dokis First Nation and an Associate Professor at Laurentian University’s School of Indigenous Relations. She is also the founder of the Indigenous Health Research Development Program, which aims to build capacity for Indigenous health research and promote culturally appropriate care.
  6. Dr. Nadine Caron – Dr. Caron is a Northern Secwepemc (Shuswap) member and the first Indigenous woman to become a general surgeon in Canada. She is also a strong advocate for Indigenous health and is the co-director of the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health.
  7. Dr. Maryam Ghodrati – Dr. Ghodrati is a member of the Dene Nation and a clinical psychologist specializing in trauma and cultural identity. She founded the Indigenous Healing and Resilience Through Psychotherapy program, which aims to provide culturally safe mental health care to Indigenous peoples.

These seven Indigenous women are just a few examples of the incredible work being done to improve Indigenous mental health. Through their leadership, advocacy, and commitment to their communities, they create positive change and promote healing and wellness. However, much more work needs to be done to address the unique challenges facing Indigenous mental health, and it’s crucial to support Indigenous-led initiatives and listen to the voices of Indigenous peoples.

As individuals, we can educate ourselves about Indigenous mental health and support Indigenous-led initiatives. We can also advocate for more funding and resources for improving Indigenous mental health. By working together and amplifying Indigenous voices, we can help to create a more equitable and just society for all.

Matt Lawson, MA, NCC, LPC

Matt Lawson, MA, NCC, LPC

Hi, I'm Matt, and I'm a counselor who helps people achieve optimal health. I currently offer counseling services here at Chicago Compass Counseling and specialize in eSports and video game addiction. If you're interested, you can read more about me on my about page.