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.”