Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Gambling Major Project Report
Project 1: “Out of The Shadows: Creating Awareness About Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Gambling in the African Nova Scotian Community”
We are in the second and final year of the Out of The Shadows Project, which has been moving along well and currently beginning the fourth phase of the project. The initial purpose and ongoing vision of this project is to remove barriers to care, and meet the diversity of communities and groups in Nova Scotia in a respectful and dignified manner. The “Out of the Shadows” Project proposed to offer four interrelated components to bring awareness to African Nova Scotian (ANS) families and communities focusing on and examining the issues of mental health, substance use, and gambling. This project has covered twelve different communities across the province including the following communities: Halifax, Dartmouth, Cole Harbor, East Preston, North Preston, Beechville, Kentville, Yarmouth, Truro, New Glasgow, Tracadie, and Sydney.
The first component of the “Out of the Shadows” Project involved Community Conversations through Kitchen Table talks that took place over the twelve communities across the province outlined above. Twelve hosts were identified (one per community) and guest speakers/professionals working the field to facilitate the workshops in the designated communities. The target audience for this component was ANS families, adult’s seniors and community leaders.
The second component consisted of awareness workshops for youth in each of the outlined communities within the targeted schools or community groups. With the use of social media venues such as Facebook and Twitter we attempted to recruit youth for workshops that to provide awareness of mental health, addictions, and gambling to this population. We also partnered with the Black Educators Association (BEA), Regional Educators Program, in the process of recruiting youth as well as hosting the workshops.
The third component involved a series of workshops on the three key topics as a part of a larger conference that took place at the ABSW 35th Annual Conference in September 2014. The conference invited two participants from both the community kitchen table talks and youth focus groups to attend the conference. Year one project findings were also presented in a workshop where participants from the kitchen table talks were invited to attend.
The fourth and final part of the project will increase awareness across Nova Scotian through our 8-Week Mini Talk Show Series produced by Eastlink Community TV. This series will consist of interviews with first voice community members living with mental illness, substance abuse and gambling related problems; professionals working in the identified fields, as well a spiritual leaders whom are often first responders to these issues. The mini-series will also feature youth spoken word and other artistic expressions, as well as our project findings.
Project 2: “Strategies for Reducing Gambling Related Harm in the African Nova Scotian Community”
This special one-year project, funded by Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia, has been conducted in two phases. The first phase, invited Dr. Deborah Haskins, an expert in the field of problem gambling, to provide a keynote address as well as facilitate a Train-the-Trainer Workshop held from September 24-27 2014, at our 35th Anniversary Conference. The Train-the-Trainer workshop trained four community members, two youth and two adults from each of the twelve communities identified from the “Out of the Shadows Project”. These participants were identified as local ambassadors for change to continue the work in reducing gambling related harm in their communities. Using a Train the Trainers model, the forty eight Ambassadors for Change were trained on how to facilitate workshops in their local communities as well as having the opportunity to develop specific change strategies that would best meet their specific community’s needs.
The second phase consisted of Kitchen Table Talks held from October 2014- March 2015, in nine of the twelve African Nova Scotia (ANS) communities identified from the “Out of the Shadows Project”: Halifax, Dartmouth, East Preston, North Preston, Beechville, Kentville, Truro, New Glasgow, and Sydney.
The Project Coordinator worked with subject specialists to develop resource materials including the training manual toolkit, brochures, and posters to provide to each community group. The Project Coordinator also connected with community members and hosts to arrange the kitchen table talk in each of the nine identified communities, and then facilitated each talk. The kitchen table talks targeted both youth and adults. Our aim for the talks is that they have helped increase the uptake on health promotion regarding gambling related harm, and increase or improve individual skills to reduce risky gambling behaviour. They also awareness, increased education, and facilitated ongoing discussion regarding the cultural and intergenerational behaviour and attitudes that lead to risky gambling behaviour. Furthermore, the talks addressed the differential impacts of the social determinants of health on African Nova Scotian youth, families and communities and their connection to risky gambling behaviour. Each community group was invited to identify an action that they would like to do as a follow-up to this project within their community.
As approved research projects through Dalhousie Research Ethics, we are currently in the final evaluation process for both projects. This consists of expert data analysis to identify project themes and be produced as a research document.