Summary: Report 2

Emerging Trends in Research on Mental Health Among Canadian Aboriginal Peoples

A Report Prepared for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD, FRCPC
Kathryn Gill, PhD
Christopher Fletcher, BES
Yeshim Ternar, PhD
Lucy Boothroyd, MSc
Consuelo Quesney, MA
André Smith, MSW
Nadia Ferrara, MAT
Barbara Hayton, MD, CCFP


Requested by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, our aim in this report is to review the scientific literature on the mental health problems of Canadian Aboriginal peoples to identify emerging trends in research themes and methods. The topics to be covered include the following:

  1. an overview of epidemiological data on Aboriginal mental health in Canada;

  2. a critical review of existing literature on the topic of prevention and treatment among Aboriginal peoples in Canada;

  3. a comprehensive discussion of emerging trends in this field;

  4. guidelines for future research.

This report is organized in accordance with these themes. We have endeavoured to include specific material on women, status and non-status Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples. Unfortunately, in most cases there is very little information available. Given that the problems we address cut across groups, we have not created separate sections for each important subgroup. The index provides a way to track down specific mention of groups, geographical regions or other specific interests. The index can also function as a glossary since many technical terms are defined on their first occurrence. In this introductory section, we provide definitions of technical terminology and offer some general comments on research methods to orient the reader. The second major section addresses basic epidemiological statistics on common psychiatric disorders. The third section summarizes research issues on alcohol and substance abuse, particularly as they relate to other psychiatric disorders. The fourth section considers traditional and contemporary healing practices and addresses problems in the assessment of helping interventions. The fifth section identifies emerging trends in the field. Finally, we present a summary of the major conclusions and guidelines for future research based on our reading of the literature.

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