Honouring Our Strengths: Mental Wellness Across the Life Span

Using Indigenous knowledge and culture is vital for life promotion and for facilitating mental wellness. This talk is based on a national, CIHR funded research project that studied Indigenous wellness from a whole person perspective, and the cultural practices grounded in sacred Indigenous knowledge that supports the development of a whole and healthy person. This project found that strengths-based, life generating strategies which honour Indigenous ways of knowing and reflect relational, familial, social, and spiritual dimensions of selfhood are more likely to be effective than those which do not. These findings, as well as measurable outcomes for culture-based investments in mental wellness that are easily transferrable to ensure culturally safe social work practice, will be discussed.

Carol Hopkins, MSW and a degree in sacred Indigenous Knowledge, equivalent to a PhD in Western-based education.

Carol Hopkins is the Executive Director of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation (a division of the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation) and is of the Lenape Nation at Moraviantown, Ontario. Carol was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Canada, 2018.

Carol Hopkins has spent more than 20 years in the field of First Nations addictions and mental health. She holds both a Masters of Social Work Degree from the University of Toronto and a degree in sacred Indigenous Knowledge, equivalent to a PhD in western based education systems. Carol also holds a sessional faculty position in the school of social work at Kings University College at Western University.

 Carol has co-chaired national initiatives known for best practice in national policy review and development, resulting in the: First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework (FNMWC), the Honouring Our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nations in Canada, the Indigenous Wellness Framework, and best practice guidelines for culturally based inhalant abuse treatment. Carol has also inspired the development of the Native Wellness Assessment. In recognition of this work, Carol received the Champions of Mental Health Award 2015 for Research/Clinician, the Health Canada Innovations Award, was a member of the leadership advisory council to the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and was part of the Canadian delegation to the 2016 United Nations General Assembly, Special Session on the World Drug Problem. Carol also participates on a national mental health advisory council to the federal Minister of Health.