Boozhoo, Christopher Mushquash Nindizhinikaaz.
Welcome to “Ask Dr. Mushquash”. My goal with this column is to invite readers to submit questions or topics for discussion related to issues of mental health, addiction, and wellness in our communities. In the coming weeks, in addition to answering your questions, I plan to cover such topics as:
1. What is the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist?
2. How do I know if my child needs an assessment?
3. What can I expect if I decide to pursue treatment for mental health difficulties?
4. Are traditional, culture-based healing methods helpful in treating addiction?
5. How can I find out if the training advertised to my community or organization is based on solid research evidence?
However, I thought for my first article, I could introduce myself to readers of Anishinabek News.
I am Ojibway and a member of Pays Plat First Nation. I grew up in a small town in Northwestern Ontario, where I learned to hunt and fish. I went to university for 13 years and earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Dalhousie University and completed my pre-doctoral residency at the University of Manitoba, specializing in rural and northern clinical practice. After I finished my schooling, I moved back to Northwestern Ontario and in particular, the Robinson-Superior Treaty Area where my First Nation is located, to work with our people. My wife (who is also a clinical psychologist and researcher) and I live near Thunder Bay. I think it is very important to understand unique issues experienced by First Nations people living in urban, rural, and northern communities when providing clinical care.
I am a Clinical Psychologist registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario and work at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care providing assessment, treatment, and consultation to children and adults. It is a great honour and privilege for me to be able to work with First Nations people in mental health and addiction, and I am very grateful to work at Dilico.
I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Lakehead University and the Division of Human Sciences at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. I was recently appointed Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction, and am currently working on a number research projects in collaboration with First Nations communities and organizations.
Our First Nations are wonderfully diverse, with rich cultures, traditions, languages, histories, and methods of healing. However, the health of many individuals, families, and communities has been disrupted. For example, across Canada, we know that First Nations peoples experience significant health disparities compared to non-First Nations peoples. Some communities experience higher rates of mental health difficulties and addiction. My goal is to build upon the knowledge that exists within our cultures, traditions, languages, histories, and methods of healing, and clinical psychology, to support community-based priorities and efforts at improving our wellness.
So, please feel free to submit your own questions, suggest topics you are interested in, or participate by reading along! Although I may not be able to respond to all your letters, I will do my very best to respond to as many as I can and hope that you find my column interesting. Chi-Meegwetch!
It is important to note that Ask Dr. Mushquash is an educational tool and is not meant as treatment or a substitute for professional advice. Dr. Mushquash cannot provide psychological services through the column or arrange referrals or emergency care through this site. If you are in need of immediate help, please contact your local health centre, hospital, mental health worker, or crisis response. Medical questions or concerns should be directed to your nurse or family physician. We also have an ethical and legal obligation to report any suspicion of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse to the appropriate authorities.
For more information on Dr. Mushquash’s research, please visit his website: http://mushquash.lakeheadu.ca or follow him on Twitter: @DrMushquash