For almost 20 years I have worked in the field of mental health in both hospital and community care. Currently there is a deficit of understanding between non-aboriginal and aboriginal people, and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the field of mental health. Many First Nations people do not seek mental health support because they believe that they are not understood. Only through education will this gap be closed. My goal is to contribute to the inclusiveness of our mental health care model by furthering our understanding of the role of spirituality in mental health, especially among our First Nations people.
There is much to be learned on both sides. With non-aboriginals, there is a lack of education and understanding of the value of First Nations culture and customs and the role of their spirituality in well being. On the Aboriginal side, there is a lack of trust and respect for the health care model espoused by modern medicine. Because of its holistic and trusted nature, nursing is in the key position to implement research in this area. My goal is to make New Brunswick a recognized leader in research and health system change, addressing these issues and better integrating culture, spirituality, and medicine for the optimal mental health of all Canadians.
My research will be used to educate nurses in providing culturally competent and culturally safe care in both clinical and community settings. This award enables me, despite continued health problems, to complete my Masters degree by partnering with First Nations in a community-based study to address these issues.