Nunavut seeks mental health care workers who already live in its communities

The government is looking to hire community mental health and addictions workers as part of a new strategy.

Government says it has funding, support for new mental health workers who live in the communities

Victoria Madsen is Nunavut's director of mental health and addiction. She says the government is looking for community members who are a 'good fit' to fill the new mental health worker positions. (David Gunn /CBC)

The government of Nunavut is developing a new model for delivering mental health care — and it starts in the communities.

Most communities in the territory already have a mental health nurse, and some have service providers with social work degrees who specialize in treating trauma related issues. But there are not enough of them and often these workers are transient, according to the government.

That's why the territory's Department of Health is looking to increase staffing by engaging people in the communities who have some mental health training or an interest in the field.

"What would be best is if we have someone in the community already that is stable [not transient] and knows the community's needs, so that would give some stability to our mental health and addictions programming," said Victoria Madsen, Nunavut's director of mental health and addiction.

Now there is support and funding in place to hire community mental health and addictions workers.

"We just have to pick people that are happy in the job and a good fit and we [will] give them good support," Madsen said.

That support includes training, tools and a clear reporting line so these new workers will have someone to go to for advice, she said.

Madsen said there aren't enough services available in the territory, but they are working hard to turn it around and these community mental health workers are a step forward.

"If we can all keep improving at this rate, I really feel positive for the future," she said.

​One of her goals is to make it easier for youth to come forward with mental health concerns.

Hiring 1 or 2 people in each community

There are one or two jobs available in every community.

Madsen said people can apply, but they are also looking for recommendations for candidates from schools, hamlets and health centres.

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