Who We Fund
Bringing Together Physical Activity and Culture to Promote Mental Health for Indigenous Youth
Dr. Serene Kerpan
Community Health and Epidemiology
University of Saskatchewan
Supervisor(s)Dr. Sylvia Abonyi (Lead Supervisor)Dr. Sarah Oosman (Supervisor)
2016-2017 Postdoctoral Research Fellowships
DescriptionIn Saskatchewan Indigenous youth are the fastest growing demographic and unfortunately they bear a disproportionate burden of mental health issues, including high rates of suicide. Research has identified that the promotion of culture can increase the mental health of Indigenous youth. Studies with non-Indigenous youth have shown that physical activity significantly reduces depression, anxiety, psychological distress, and emotional disturbance. Indigenous youth value physical activity because they feel it is important for their health and social connections. They also believe that traditional forms of physical activity (e.g. hunting, fishing, hiking, dancing, games) are important. For this study Indigenous worldview and physical activity will be brought together in an intervention designed to enhance the mental health of Indigenous youth. An implementation science approach coupled with participatory action research methods will be used to collaboratively develop a study with Whitecap Elementary School (WES) and Whitecap First Nation. The main goal for this research is to examine the association between a physical activity intervention and mental health for Indigenous elementary school youth in Whitecap Dakota First Nation. Community members (i.e. youth, parents, leaders, Elders) will be engaged to design, implement and evaluate this intervention. If the intervention is successful, scalability and adaptive approaches will be investigated to determine if this evidence-based strategy can be used to enhance the mental health of youth in other Indigenous communities.