The following is an excerpt from a larger interview conducted by NC Raine, originally published in Eagle Feather News, the most widely circulated Indigenous newspaper in Saskatchewan.
Accessing safe and confidential mental health support for Indigenous youth is just one click away thanks to Talking Stick. The app has been around for about a year and the free service allows young people to quickly access Talking Stick’s network of peer advocates.
“We found there weren’t enough culturally sensitive mental health supports specifically for Indigenous people here in Saskatchewan,” said Robert Gladue, Talking Stick’s Southwest Regional Manager, and member of Waterhen Lake First Nation. “Support that understands our background, our community, and our family dynamics.”
“That’s what is unique about Talking Stick – it’s run by Indigenous people for Indigenous people,” he said. “It’s supported by our peer advocates who are from First Nations communities across the province.”
Jennifer Fobert, Principal at Chamakese Education Centre at Chitek Lake, said a lot of young people struggle with having someone to support them, and sometimes don’t feel safe expressing their issues. This app helps to solve that, she said.
“We’ve had some suicides, and some attempts,” said Fobert. “There’s some mental health issues, and some kids have no one at home to talk to. Some kids will talk to us, but some won’t. I feel like sometimes they are afraid if someone at home finds out, they’re going to be in trouble.”
The anonymity has been a big factor for students being able to speak freely to the online peer advocates, she said. “I think this could help them perform better in the classroom,” said Fobert. “You can’t always reach every student, so this app makes it accessible to get help whenever they need.”
The creation of Talking Stick means Indigenous youth can connect anonymously to culture-based support workers via the chat application. The app has been around for about a year and the free service allows young people to quickly access Talking Stick’s network of peer advocates. “We’ve had feedback from users, and it’s very positive,” said Gladue. “You can see that Talking Stick is making an impact at both the community and family level.”
By NC Raine, Eagle Feather News. To read the full story, we encourage you to visit: Talking Stick can be a lifesaver | Oct 30, 2023