After-hours youth crisis program aims to help Tsuut'ina youth

Tsuut'ina Youth Crisis Program helps youth dealing with substance abuse, mental health issues, suicide and family violence.

New resource for kids dealing with substance abuse, family violence, mental health issues

Yolanda YoungPine-Crowchild, Tsuut'ina Healthy Living Program Director. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

Yolanda YoungPine-Crowchild shuffles through her client folders as she plans out her day.

"There were gaps in services for them," said the Tsuut'ina Healthy Living Program Director. "I developed the program so that we can meet their needs."

The project aims to reach out to educate Tsuut'ina youth who are dealing with substance abuse, mental health issues, suicide and family violence.

"We found the Healthy Living Program was focusing on adults, although we work with youth as well. So we found money that was available from Jordan's Principle."

Jordan's Principle is a provincial/territorial and federal government payment for services for First Nations children.

A new program aims to help at-risk Tsuut'ina kids. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

The youth crisis project also creates relationships and offers a range of programs, including medicine wheel recovery programming, crisis intervention, aftercare support groups, relapse prevention, sweats, harm reduction, cultural and traditional healing circles.

The services are offered to the community members of Tsuut'ina.

YoungPine-Crowchild said the program is much needed because there is stigma around mental health especially in First Nation communities.

The program has two after-hours youth crisis workers, a female and male, so clients have a choice. The workers meet clients and develop a plan for each youth.

The staff work four days a week after hours, out of the Healthy Living building — which also operates a 24/7 crisis line.

Maggie Pipestem is from Tsuut'ina and is the female youth crisis worker.

"We're pretty much like the stepping stones to like resources," Pipestem says. "Just because we are not like counselors anything. We just like direct the kids to resources."

Maggie Pipestem is a Tsuut'ina member and youth crisis worker. (Livia Manywounds/CBC)

The Tsuut'ina member, who says she always wanted to work with youth and be a role model, has experienced similar mental health issues and substance abuse with family members..

"We pretty much go out to crisis for any … youth," she says. "If a youth is suicidal, we go out and go help them out. We also do hospital visits, home visits and we provide transportation."

The crisis program worker said her clients mostly deal with issues at school and mental health.

The short term program started in December 2018, and the federal funding is set to expire at the end of March.

About the Author

Livia Manywounds is a reporter with the CBC in Calgary, a rodeo competitor and a proud member of the Tsuut’ina First Nation.