Given the history and legacy of colonialism, Aboriginal peoples suffer from disproportionately higher rates of mental health issues than non-Aboriginal Canadians. Mirroring recent political achievements by Aboriginal peoples, British Columbia’s health authorities are committed to closing this gap in health in partnership with Aboriginal peoples. Using institutional ethnography this study examines Aboriginal mental health reform as it is unfolding in Interior Health (IH). The impact on Aboriginal participation and cultural appropriateness of services is explored. Although IH’s reform holds promise in the move to Aboriginal empowerment and healing, this research describes the tensions that arise from the intersection of neoliberal, colonial and bio-medical ideologies embedded within the mental health care system. These tensions have resulted in paradoxical policy outcomes that undermine meaningful Aboriginal participation and culturally appropriate mental health policies and services. The results of this study are relevant generally to policy makers and providers in Aboriginal mental health.
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Thesis advisor: Morrow, Marina
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