Concurrent Thinking

Concurrent Thinking

Aboriginal Programs and Services | Faculty of Health and Social Development
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For many people, substance abuse problems go hand in hand with mental health issues. Faculty and student researchers from the Okanagan campus are in the final stages of developing a treatment manual to help support Aboriginal people who struggle with what are medically known as concurrent disorders.

“Through community collaboration and service integration the Aboriginal Concurrent Disorders Project reorganizes, better utilizes, expands and shares existing services in a way that meets the needs of our Aboriginal communities,” says Irene Gonneau, project manager and Master of Social Work student at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

Through partnerships with representatives from the Westbank First Nation, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, Metis Community Services Society of BC and Interior Health, this joint initiative aims to provide help in a culturally safe and accessible way.

“The treatment manual values cultural and mainstream knowledge equally and is designed to offer treatments based on an Aboriginal client’s identity from the moment he or she walks through the door to the point of community reintegration,” says psychology student Andrew Vergara, an undergraduate researcher on the project.

The project team’s next step is to seek funds to initiate a pilot project to increase treatment options in Kelowna and West Kelowna based on the treatment manual.

“We anticipate the pilot project will run for approximately two years, during which the team hopes to demonstrate its effectiveness,” says Gonneau. “With careful development and evidence of success, it may be possible to expand this approach to other communities.”

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Andrew Vergara and Irene Gonneau Credit: Jody Jacob

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Okanagan Campus

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Aboriginal Engagement


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One response to “Concurrent Thinking”

  1. Susan J. Wells

    This is a wonderful example of community based participatory project that has been led by the community members since 2010. The team grew out of the community’s expressed need for more relevant, responsive and culturally safe services. The current team members are listed below.

    Aboriginal Community Project Team Members
    Buffy Mills
    Wellness Mentor
    Westbank First Nation Community Services

    Molly Brewer
    Mental Health Liaison/Human Resources
    Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society

    Valerie Richards
    Roots Practitioner
    Métis Community Services Society of BC

    Interior Health Participants
    David Smith, MD, FRCPC
    Adolescent and Adult Psychiatrist
    Okanagan Psychiatry Clinical Lead

    Sandra McLean
    Community Integration Health Services Manager
    for Mental Health and Substance Use

    Jamie Marshall
    Practice Lead
    Interior Health, Community Integration,
    Mental Health and Substance Use Services

    Kat (Kathy) Hinter
    Aboriginal Addictions Knowledge Exchange Lead
    Community Integration
    Mental Health and Substance Use Services
    Interior Health

    University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus
    Lyle Mueller
    Special Advisor, Aboriginal Relations, Aboriginal Programs and Services

    Susan J. Wells
    Professor and Director
    Centre for the Study of Services to Children and Families

    Irene Gonneau, MSW student
    Andrew Vergara, Honours Psychology, graduated 2013
    Centre for the Study of Services to Children and Families

    Carmen Hamilton
    Westbank First Nation Community Services

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