Web of Culture: Critically assessing and building culturally relevant online mental health resources for Indigenous youth in Northern BC.

Valerie Ward


OBJECTIVE: Traditional sources of health information are no longer meeting needs of younger generations, including Indigenous youth, who are increasingly turning to the Internet with health-related questions. Research has shown culturally tailored health education and information resources are best received by Indigenous people. Using a research approach privileging the voices and experiences of young (ages 19-25) Indigenous peoples in northern British Columbia, this project discovered online mental health resources need to be conceptualized and implemented differently to have their intended impact. METHODS: This research used a social determinants of health framework and purposefully sought out and privileged young Indigenous peoples’ stories through arts-based methods. RESULTS: Four relevant themes emerged: 1) definitions of mental health in online resources do not resonate with Indigenous youth in northern B.C., 2) existing online resources do not reflect voices of youth, particularly Indigenous and northern youth, 3) understandings of recovery among Indigenous youth in Northern BC are not the same as those reflected in existing online resources, and 4) Indigenous youth in Northern BC support technology as a means of reaching and giving voice to youth populations. CONCLUSION: Existing online mental health resources do not adequately address needs of Indigenous youth living in Northern BC. Digital storytelling, an arts-based method, is an effective and engaging research tool to work with youth populations.

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