This spring, Lucy Barney, Aboriginal Perinatal Lead with Perinatal Services BC, in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority, led two in-person advanced training sessions on perinatal depression and anxiety called “Journey to Perinatal Wellbeing.”
Building upon the existing online course and practice support resources, these sessions provided an Indigenous lens to the training and sought specifically to enhance the learning of health care providers and support workers working in First Nations communities. The trainings were held in conjunction with other health-related First Nation events and incorporated the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of depression and anxiety.
During the first training, held over three days in Richmond, BC, 24 indigenous doulas learned about supporting each other’s practice as doulas, trauma and its effects on the body, and how to identify and respond to perinatal depression and anxiety, building off the online training resource.
A second training session took place in Port Hardy on the North Island. The 12 participants included Island Heath public health nurses, First Nations Health Authority nurses, Kwakkwakakw’s maternity interdisciplinary staff, and community staff who provide care to pregnant women. This smaller group allowed for rich discussion and relationship-building between public health and First Nation communities.
The participants were excited to learn about how they can be resources for one another and the women they serve both locally and provincially, by providing referrals and practice support. They plan to continue to connect more in their regions. Participants were particularly encouraged by learning about the existence of more referral resources available for their clients.
During the trainings, the groups collaboratively developed case studies relevant to the women and families that they work with. These case studies were used to explore ways of creating a care plan holistically. Of particular concern was the loss of spirituality and its impact on the wellbeing of women and providers. The discussions emphasized the importance of supporting clients culturally to enhance the quality of care.