First Nations women’s mental health: results from an Ontario survey
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The mental health of Canada's Aboriginal women has received little scholarly attention. This paper describes the mental health of First Nations women living on reserve in Ontario and compares these findings with results from the National Population Health Survey (NPHS). Reserve communities were randomly selected within urban, rural, remote and special access regions. Depression was measured by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Alcohol use and health services utilization questions were identical to those used in the NPHS. Compared with NPHS women, First Nations women reported significantly higher rates of depression (18% vs 9%) but significantly lower rates of alcohol use (55% vs 74% reported drinking in the last year), although significantly greater proportions reported having 5+ drinks on one occasion (43% vs 24%). Given the burden of suffering associated with depression and the twofold risk found here, it is important to examine risk and protective factors specific to First Nations women. The findings of a higher proportion of abstainers, but also a higher proportion of consumers of 5+ drinks among First Nations women relative to NPHS women indicate the need for a more careful investigation, based on community rather than clinical data, of patterns of alcohol use.