ACCESS Open Minds Eskasoni First Nation


Eskasoni First Nation is adapting its approach to addressing the youth mental health and wellness needs of their community.


Since 1991, Eskasoni Mental Health Services has worked progressively towards implementing a model that meets the needs of community members, through cobbling together a variety of funding opportunities, proposals, and grants. EMHS consists of 6 integrated teams that operate within a community mental health “Fish Net” model, including:

  • The ACCESS Open Minds team
  • A Community Access/Crisis/Distress/Comfort Line, which is a toll-free, online, and in-person support available 24/7
  • The Case Management and Care Facilitation team
  • A Clinical/Therapeutic Adult Support team
  • The Residential School Survivor team
  • The Youth Resource Centre team

These six teams function within a “Ladder of Care” framework, and include Peer Support/people with lived experience, paraprofessionals, undergraduate and graduate-level social service workers, family physicians, and consulting psychiatrists.


Working within this model enables the Eskasoni Mental Health Services team to provide a wide variety of support to individuals in the community, including:

  • Promotion, prevention, education, and community development
  • Early identification and intervention
  • Crisis, distress response, and proactive planning

These community-based, community-driven, “Womb to Tomb” mental health and addictions service delivery model has been informed and guided by extensive client and community input, as well as by research partnerships. All mental health, mental wellness, and addictions issues are addressed, and embedded and blended within these services are the provision of cultural teachings, traditional practices, healthy lifestyle initiatives, sports and recreation – what the EMHS team has termed the “Fish Net” Model of Care.
In addition, Western therapeutic interventions and Indigenous cultural practices and teachings are blended together within the “Two-Eyed Seeing” approach, proposed by Eskasoni Elders Albert and Murdena Marshall.


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