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Home > news > DMHS Now Offers a New Service Within the Central East Region – Aboriginal Addiction and Mental Health Outreach Worker

A new Aboriginal Addiction and Mental Health Outreach Worker at
Durham Mental Health Services (DMHS) is now adding to the increasing number of services in the Central East region of Ontario specifically for indigenous people which includes self-identified First Nation, Inuit and Metis (FNIM) youth and adults.

Established with funding from the Central East Local Health Integration Network (Central East LHIN), the Aboriginal Addiction and Mental Health Outreach Worker provides support and community service navigation to self- identified First Nation, Metis and Inuit (FNIM) members of the community who require assistance with mental health recovery.

The need for this role emerged from consultations with local Aboriginal communities involving Central East LHIN’s Aboriginal Health Advisory Circles. Both Advisory Circles identified access to health services, cultural safety and mental health and addictions as priority areas for their communities.

“We’re committed to providing holistic healing,” says DMHS Regional Housing Coordinator Marni Bell, who supervises the new role, “by promoting the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical well-being of Aboriginal individuals and their families by fostering traditional values and beliefs that encourage healing and mental health stability. The Aboriginal Outreach Worker will collaborate with colleagues and community services to build capacity and promote respect, understanding, compassion and knowledge of FNIM cultural perspectives.” Connie Spencer is the new Aboriginal Addictions and Mental Health Outreach worker, Connie is a member of the Wahta Mohawk community.

“DMHS has been providing community mental health services in the Durham Region since 1987,” says Rob Adams, CEO, DMHS. “We are pleased to be able to offer this much needed culturally competent service to the Aboriginal community.”

Clients are identified and referred to the new service through Hospital-to-Home programs at Lakeridge Health Oshawa, Rouge Valley Health System and the Scarborough Hospital.

By integrating with existing Hospital-to-Home programs, DMHS’ Aboriginal Outreach Worker focuses on those with mental health and/or addiction concerns who have frequent emergency departments visits or inpatient stays. The Aboriginal Outreach Worker provides short term case management support to FNIM clients with mental health and/or addiction concerns in their transition from hospital to their community.

“The care and support being provided by the new Aboriginal Addiction and Mental Health Outreach Worker at DMHS is another example of how the LHIN is working with health service providers to ensure that local residents can spend more time in their homes and communities by strengthening the system of supports for people with mental health and addictions issues,” said Deborah Hammons, CEO, Central East LHIN. “It was a pressing need identified by our Advisory Circles that the system quickly responded to.”

For more information on DMHS’ Aboriginal Addictions and Mental Health Outreach Worker service, please contact Regional Housing Coordinator Marni Bell at