Regional Wellness Response Program

Building capacity to develop community-driven responses and improve health for present and future generations.

In 2011, First Nation leaders in the Sioux Lookout area directed SLFNHA to develop a Regional Opiate Drug Abuse Strategy. Two interrelated priority areas identified to tackle were substance abuse and blood-borne infections.  This resulted in the development of the Regional Wellness Response Program (RWRP) in January 2013 to be a resource for all First Nation communities in the region.

The Regional Wellness Response is now integrated within Approaches to Community Wellbeing Model and supports mental wellbeing in communities. The Regional Wellness Response Program includes the Indigenous Healing Wellness Strategy Community Family Healing Program, the Community Wellness Development Team, and Mental Health Promotion.


Create a streamlined approach to assist communities and health/social service professionals to institute practices to increase public awareness on the following: addiction issues; community healing; and mental health promotion.

Assisting communities build capacity and develop their own community-driven approaches.

Liaise with community leadership, frontline workers, and health care providers to gain an understanding of services and resources required to address priorities of health and community wellness.

Ensure First Nations communities have access to vital health care and social services  to treat prescription drug abuse despite remoteness and complexity
Improve service delivery through partnerships with multiple health and social service organizations through integration, coordination and consultation.

Community Wellness Development Team

The Community Wellness Development Team is part of a regional initiative to help First Nation Communities prepare, plan, develop and implement their own community-driven treatment programs/approaches to address prescription drug abuse (i.e. opioids) and the underlying mental health issues that influence substance abuse and addiction.

The Community Wellness Development Team staff will work with communities to provide on-going support and consultation while building capacity to tackle the issues.

Services Provided

Required before any additional services can be delivered

Specialists travel to a community for an on-site visit to conduct an assessment

Collection of demographics, a perspective on the scope of the prescription drug abuse issue, community history, health/social indicators, existing resources/strengths, and gaps

Following, the CWDT completes a thorough report to help with the development of an action plan

Specialists help the community project team review their assets, capacity and outline various treatment/program options

Decision established to reflect desired community response (i.e. education, prevention, treatment) and an action plan is set to work towards the goal

Once the community has decided on the option they want, the CWDT can be a source of consultation while the project team completes a proposal to submit for funding consideration

The team can assist the project team with program development and design of their community-based program (i.e. pre-treatment, short-term withdrawal/detox, in-patient residential, out-patient day programming, land-based programming, medication assisted/Suboxone, aftercare, and other approaches to consider if the necessary funding and personnel are unavailable)

To increase staff/treatment providers’ confidence, ability/skills and knowledge to address addiction issues and related mental health issues, the team can provide education, training and demonstration on a variety of topics as requested

The team can offer support and guidance during implementation of a program, along with assisting with the development of program evaluations to measure the success of programs

The team can help establish and strengthen linkages with existing mental health and addiction services that may be able to contribute to programs

Indigenous Healing and Wellness

In December 2004, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority received approval from the Indigenous Healing and Wellness Strategy to provide non-residential mental health services in Northern Ontario.


To improve client based mental health services for individuals and families from First Nations in the Sioux Lookout Area through enhancing community-level case management services, delivering non-residential treatment programming, and improving access to and coordination with regional mental health/health services.

Services Provided

Community Family Healing

This six day program introduces concepts of healing and wellness for community, family, and self through an Indigenous worldview. The program will examine impacts of colonization and the issues of living as an Aboriginal person in a non-Indigenous world.

Mental Health First Aid First Nations

This 20 hour course can be provided regionally or on community request, and uses the EAGLE framework for having a confident conversation about mental health with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers. 

Participants will gain a solid understanding of the 5 basic actions of Eagle:

  • Engage and Evaluate the risk of suicide or harm
  • Assist the person to seek professional help
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Listen without judgment
  • Encourage self-help strategies and gather community supports

Mental Health Promotion

Mental Health Promotion includes actions to enhance capacity and improve the mental well-being of individuals, families and communities. The Regional Wellness Response Program is specifically looking at education and awareness campaigns around mental health promotion to target various strategies aimed at working with the whole community to enhance mental wellness.

For More Information

Denise Williams
Preventing Infectious Diseases Manager