Protective Factors For Mental Health And Well-Being In A Changing Climate: Perspectives From Inuit Youth In Nunatsiavut, Labrador

2015 July 26

Petrasek MacDonald, J., Cunsolo-Willox, A., Ford, J.D., Shiwak, I., Wood, M., the IMHACC Team, and the Rigolet Inuit Community Government. (In Press). Access PDF here. Social Science & Medicine.
 
Abstract

The Canadian Arctic is experiencing rapid changes in climatic conditions, with implications for Inuit communities widely documented. Youth have been identified as an at-risk population, with likely impacts on mental health and well-being. This study identifies and characterizes youth-specific protective factors that enhance well-being in light of a rapidly changing climate, and examines how climatic and environmental change challenges these. In-depth conversational interviews were conducted with youth aged 15-25 from the five communities of the Nunatsiavut region of Labrador, Canada: Nain, Hopedale, Postville, Makkovik, and Rigolet. Five key protective factors were identified as enhancing their mental health and well-being: being on the land; connecting to Inuit culture; strong communities; relationships with family and friends; and staying busy. Changing sea ice and weather conditions were widely reported to be compromising these protective factors by reducing access to the land, and increasing the danger of land-based activities. This study contributes to existing work on Northern climate change adaptation by identifying factors that enhance youth resilience and, if incorporated into adaptation strategies, may contribute to creating successful and effective adaptation responses.

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