Updates to Mental Health Counselling Programs

Press Release

The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) works closely with funding partners and community to carefully evaluate the sustainability and cultural safety of First Nations Health Benefits and Services (FNHBS) programs for Clients. As a result of this review, there have been several updates to the Mental Health programs and services, effective April 15, 2024.

What are the changes?

  1. Mental Health program eligibility. Mental Health programs and services will now have the same eligibility as all other FNHBS programs. These services will be available for Status First Nations who meet the Medical Service Plan definition of residency in BC (three months). For more information about eligibility and enrolling with FNHBS, click the link here.
  2. Mental Wellness & Counselling program. FNHBS will serve clients under one program. This includes the following programs: Mental Wellness Counselling program, the Indian Residential School Resolution Health Support Program (IRS RHSP), Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Health Support Services (MMIWG HSS) and the Indian Day School Health Support Services (IDS HSS).
  3. Mental Health Provider eligibility. In addition to existing Provider eligibility, new Providers must have a minimum of five years’ counselling experience and a minimum of three years’ counselling experience serving First Nations people.

Please note that Indian Residential School (IRS) survivors and impacted family members will continue to be able to access health and cultural supports directly from the IRS service Providers listed on the resource here.

I’m seeing a counsellor right now, but I’m not a Status First Nation. What do I do after April 15?

Coverage is available until April 30, 2024. If you do not meet the new Mental Wellness Counselling program Client eligibility criteria, coverage is available for up to 4 sessions, if required, prior to April 30, 2024. For additional mental health resources, please click the link here. If you need any support to navigate the FNHA-funded health and cultural supports please email us at MHWPrograms@fnha.ca.

Why is the eligibility changing?

FNHBS’ funding is for First Nations people living in BC with Status. Previously, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement provided more flexibility to support mental wellness services for Métis and Inuit intergenerational family members of survivors as well as any non-status First Nations people. In 2021, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement agreement concluded and the funding changed. The FNHA continues to work closely with funding partners and community to develop programs that work towards healthy, self-determining and vibrant BC First Nations children, families and communities.

How does FNHA’s mental wellness counselling program compare with Non-insured Health Benefits (NIHB) eligibility and coverage for First Nations people in other provinces and territories?

The NIHB program provides coverage to First Nations people who are registered under the Indian Act, commonly referred to as a “Status Indian”. Every 12 months an eligible client can receive up to 22 hours of counselling performed by an eligible Provider. Additional hours in the same 12 month period may be provided on a case by case basis.

I still have other questions, who do I contact?

Questions about eligibility: contact FNHBS at 1-855-550-5454.

If you need any support to navigate the FNHA-funded health and cultural supports: email MHWPrograms@fnha.ca.


24 Hour mental health supports:

Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention by phone or online chat. Call toll-free 1-855-242-3310 or start a confidential chat with a counsellor at hopeforwellness.ca.

Indian Residential School Crisis Line is a national service for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience. Call toll-free 1-866-925-4419.

KUU-US Crisis Line Society provides crisis services for Indigenous people across BC. Adults/Elders line 250-723-4050; youth line 250-723-2040. Or call toll free 1-800-588-8717. Learn more at www.kuu-uscrisisline.com.

Métis Crisis Line is a service of Métis Nation British Columbia. Call 1-833-MétisBC (1-833-638-4722).

For a full list of mental health and wellness supports, please visit the link here.


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