OKIB welcomes new mental health and wellness team

Help with mental health

Coming up on one year since COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic, it’s come as no surprise the need for mental health support and wellness is long overdue.

Statistics Canada shares that six in 10 Indigenous peoples have “report(ed) that their mental health has worsened since the onset of physical distancing.”

The team is not fully Indigenous, a decision made strategically in order to ensure client-led care and comfortability is key. The team shares that it’s important, “everyone has a choice,” said Grant Louis, Addictions Worker and OKIB member, “If you’re more comfortable with a woman we have that, or a man, I’m there too.”

Louis says his preferred personal method of practice is land-based and that reconnecting with your roots is vital in healing from intergenerational traumas.

“Being out on the land you’re with the land, you have your hands in the dirt, all of it heals, all of this was here long before us, so being out on the land reconnects us,” said Louis.

Louis has returned home after 20 years and is looking forward to learning the language and how it can inform his practice as well as share what he’s learned in his expansive past work working with several different tribes and nations on both sides of the medicine line.

Lovanda Beliveau, a Metis Plains Cree Mental Health Counsellor, shares in the same sentiment as Louis that land-based work is vital in healing, and that the comfortability of the clients is paramount in the program. “So me specifically, if (people) wanted someone who wasn’t a band member or a female they can definitely come to me,” says Beliveau.

Beliveau has “14 years of experience of working with people who suffer from PTSD, agoraphobia, anxiety, I have a good knowledge of the body and the brain.”

Although Beliveau is not from the community, but has grown up experiencing what for Indigenous peoples is a collective experience with intergenerational traumas affecting daily lives.

“I grew up with an understanding of intergenerational trauma, I lived it, so I understand it,” she said. “Being here makes me feel like I really have a purpose.”

Mental Health Counsellor Jeueness Pearson acknowledges that although she is non-Indigenous, she’s been welcomed with arms wide open.

“Everyone has been extremely welcoming and patient with me.”

Pearson has been working in the field since 1996 and her experience is working with people, “with mental health challenges. My specialty is more depression, anxiety, relationships, I tend to work more with people who are dealing with the addiction of a loved one, so people who are affected by addictive addiction.”

More Vernon News