The Building Healthy Communities program is designed to assist First Nations and Inuit communities to develop community-based approaches to youth solvent abuse and mental health crises, the two components of the program. First Nations and Inuit communities have the flexibility to determine which program component(s) to provide community-based programs, services and/or activities in.
- Solvent Abuse- The solvent abuse component enables First Nations and Inuit communities to develop local programs aimed at preventing the abuse of solvents and to intervene as needed, which could involve residential treatment. To deliver such programs requires people who are trained, so training-related activities are also eligible for funding.
- Mental Health Crisis Management- This component is designed to complement the mental health promotion and prevention activities of the Brighter Futures program. It enables First Nations and Inuit communities to respond to crises, such as suicide, as well as to heal from them. It also enables communities to receive crisis-related training, such as suicide prevention training.
The Brighter Futures and Building Healthy Communities programs were evaluated for the first time between November 2003 and December 2004.
A literature review, file review, survey of program administrators and workers were used to gather data for the evaluation. Information was also obtained from key informant interviews in 23 First Nations and Inuit communities and focus groups in the eight regions across Canada.
From the data gathered, the following key findings emerged:
- The Brighter Futures and Building Healthy Communities programs continue to be relevant to the needs of First Nations people and Inuit;
- The programs are generally successful in what they do. Some communities need assistance in program design, delivery and reporting, which tends to focus on transactions and events, rather than on the actual performance and impact of the program; and
- The majority of respondents thought that the flexibility communities have in directing resources to address their particular needs was critical to the programs’ success. This flexibility helped glue together the various parts of their programs and services, and gave people a sense of ownership and trust in their programs.