Dr. Evan Adams and his team from the First Nations Health Authority were in Bella Coola in late January to meet with the community, health professionals and leadership. This particular visit was focused on communication, treatment and prevention of suicide.
In recent months the Valley has suffered several losses of life to suicide. In many cases the victims were young adults and teens.
“I absolutely understand and feel for the community that they’ve had some events in the last several months that have been heartbreaking and left people feeling bereft,” said Dr. Adams. “The FNHA has inherited the authority from the former Health Canada branch and we are a First Nations organization, but really we are like your cousins from across the way who have heard about what has happened here and we can lend our help, because we are in the business of health.”
As Dr. Adams explained, the First Nations Health Authority is the first province-wide health authority of its kind in Canada. In 2013, the FNHA assumed the programs, services, and responsibilities formerly handled by Health Canada’s First Nations Inuit Health Branch – Pacific Region. Their vision is to transform the health and well-being of BC’s First Nations and Aboriginal people by dramatically changing healthcare for the better.
“We know that people get hurt, they have setbacks and they need to get better,” said Dr. Adams. “This is third meeting of many we plan to have with the Nuxalk Nation to talk about getting better and discuss how we can help support them to be the best that they can be.”
Dr. Adam and his team gave a short presentation in the Acwsalcta gymnasium entitled “Hope, Health and Healing.” But, as he explained, this strategy is more intended to support the work already being done by the Nuxalk Nation and to help address the issues around suicide and mental health in general.
“The community is doing its own planning around its health and wellbeing, and we are happy to support that and be a part of it,” explained Dr. Adams. “We have a strategy called Hope, Health and Healing and this instance it’s related to suicide but it’s also related to mental health in general.”
Dr. Adams explained it as a cycle. “Hope” is when you’re feeling great, but another part of the cycle is “Help,” where you need help, whether you ask for it or not, and “Healing” as following an event that has occurred where you need to heal. This cycle continues as we go through our lives inevitable ups and downs.
“Unfortunately none of guess through life without some kind of heartbreak, some kind of loss, so you can’t just have hope as part of that cycle,” said Dr. Adams. “So help and healing are an important part, and coming here has certainly filled me with hope.”