Mental Health Framework

The GNWT is committed to supporting the well-being and safety of residents by focusing on mental health and addictions through locally delivered services with culturally-appropriate methods.

The Mental Health Framework will guide us in transforming the NWT mental health system. It will build on existing strengths of connectedness to culture and community, which are some the strongest preventive foundations against mental health crisis and substance abuse in our communities.

Grounded in a population-health approach, the framework also sets some new directions and philosophies for care.

The Framework will focus on four key directions:

  • A Focus on Prevention and Early Intervention
  • A Recovery-Oriented System
  • Personal Experience and Outcomes
  • A Whole of Government Approach

A Focus on Prevention and Early Intervention

Prevention and early intervention are the first key direction needed to effectively promote mental wellness and addiction recovery in the NWT.   This key direction will focus on the following priority groups:

  • Children
  • Youth
  • Families
  • Elders

A Recovery-Oriented System

A recovery oriented system represents a transformation of our current mental health system. The changes begin with how we view mental health and wellness. Recovery is about being able to live a meaningful and satisfying life, whether or not there will continue to be ongoing symptoms or limitations caused by mental health problems, illnesses, or addictions. People can and do recover, but it’s a deeply personal process that is unique to the individual.  One size does not fit all and each person has the right to determine what works for them.

A system that recognizes and supports recovery on all levels includes:

  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Cultural

The focus on recovery will have a balanced approach to healing.

Personal Experience and Outcomes

Personal experience and outcomes refers to the need to learn from individual experiences through ongoing research, monitoring and evaluation work in order to improve the services we provide based on these lessons. It also refers to our commitment to provide high quality training opportunities to everyone involved in planning and delivering mental wellness and addiction recovery programs and services. All of this directly links to the quality of care NWT residents receive though our system. This key direction will focus on the following priority areas:

  • Research
  • Training
  • Monitoring and Evaluating Outcomes

A Whole of Government Approach

Better integration of services between various levels of government and across departments paves the way for a no wrong door approach to mental wellness or addictions recovery support.  With this approach, any helping professional is able to connect individuals and families with the appropriate services, even if that service is not offered by their organization or within their sector. 

Partnerships and joint accountability are critical at all levels to ensure success in promoting, protecting and restoring mental health and effectively addressing addictions.

Next Steps

The four key directions are mutually reinforcing – each area interacts with the others. There needs to be progress in all areas to achieve success. Over the coming months, three detailed action plans will flow from this framework – A Territorial Mental Wellness Action Plan, a Territorial Addictions Recovery Action Plan, and a Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan.  Each action plan will incorporate the four key directions described in this overarching strategic framework and will spell out specific goals and objectives under the three priority areas of mental health that will address identified gaps in services and result in improved access for all NWT residents.

Mental Health and Addictions Radio Show - September 8

On September 8, the GNWT hosted a radio show on CKLB 101.9 to discuss future directions in mental health and addictions in the North. Listen to a recording of our show here:

Do you have something to say about mental health and addictions in the NWT? Contact us at: