Ottawa, Ontario — Tuesday June 21, 2022
Indigenous children in Canada face inequities in accessing health services, including mental health and wellness resources. By combining the precision of measurement science with Indigenous wisdom, Dr. Nancy Young and her team are providing tangible and actionable information to Indigenous communities across Canada to support and improve the well-being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and youth.
Dr. Young, who joined the CHEO Research Institute as a Senior Scientist in July 2021, is passionate about improving the health and well-being of Indigenous children in a valid, reliable, and culturally appropriate manner. That is why her team co-created a “wholistic” health assessment tool called The Aaniish Naa Gegii: the Children’s Health and Well-being Measure© (ACHWM). The tool comes in the form of a user-friendly application (app) to measure health and well-being for Indigenous children (ages 8-18 years). The tablet-based app, created by the children for the children, generates immediate results for children in a balance chart, presents details to a local health worker, then rolls the data up in an automated community report. The automated reports make evidence-informed health care possible in small community settings. The app and its built-in safety net identify children who need support and connect them to natural helpers and local health workers.
“We are thrilled by the warm welcome we’ve received from the CHEO Research Institute and are very excited to have the support of so many experts who share our goals to improve children’s wellness,” said Dr. Young. “The CHEO research family has added invaluable expertise to our project in the areas of mental health, research methods and contracts. Because of this and the Research Institute’s incredible leadership, I am confident the ACMHW tool will continue to grow and evolve to better serve Indigenous children, youth and their communities.”
Thanks in part to significant funding from the Government of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Dr. Young’s ACHWM team has grown to support 212 new members across Canada and 12 Indigenous communities are gathering local data to inform their program decisions.
Dr. Young’s team is now examining the needs of younger children (ages 4 – 7) and youth older than 18, and testing the relevance of the content for children in Iqaluit in partnership with the Government of Nunavut’s Regional Mental Health Team. These studies will expand the reach of the ACHWM and enable more communities to make data-informed decisions for more children.