Home >> News
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
StumbleUpon icon icon
Digg icon
LinkedIn icon
MySpace icon
Newsvine icon
Reddit icon

A Shared Path Towards Wellness: The Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan, 2012-2015

YELLOWKNIFE (June 12, 2012) – Tom Beaulieu, Minister of Health and Social Services, has released A Shared Path Towards Wellness. The document is the GNWT’s 2012-2015 action plan to improve mental health and reduce addictions. It will achieve the 17th Legislative Assembly’s priorities by ensuring a fair and sustainable health system, by investing in prevention, education and awareness, and by enhancing addictions treatment programs using existing infrastructure.

“Almost everyone in the Northwest Territories is affected by mental health and addictions issues,” said Minister Beaulieu. “We must fight the impact of addictions and promote mental well-being.”

The goal of A Shared Path Towards Wellness is to ensure that people with mental health and addictions issues have access to the full range of programs and services they need. The plan is based on a “population health approach”, a holistic method that includes physical, social, spiritual and cultural health.

Mental health is everyone’s responsibility. Individuals, families, communities, governments and the private sector must make a contribution if mental health and addictions issues are to be resolved. This plan proposes a Minister’s Forum on Addictions to seek advice and guidance on the medium- to long-term direction for the addictions component of programs.

“This plan calls for communities, Aboriginal governments, non-government organizations, community groups and individuals to address mental health and addictions issues together,” added Minister Beaulieu. “I was pleased that we were able to host the regional launch of the National Strategy on Mental Health on June 7. Our action plan has similar principles and directions. I look forward to working with all of our partners on a shared goal of wellness.”

The Department of Health and Social Services spends $9 million each year to support mental health and addictions programming.  The initial actions outlined in this plan can be funded within existing resources through internal reallocation and more effective use of existing budgets.  As plans are fully developed to respond to service gaps, the Department will assess whether additional investment should be requested through the business planning process.

The 17th Legislative Assembly’s vision is of strong individuals, families and communities sharing the benefits and responsibilities of a unified, environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories. Improved access to mental health and addictions programming is key to achieving this vision.


For more information, contact:

Megan Holsapple
Media Liaison
Office of the Premier and Executive Council
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: (867) 669-2302
Fax: (867) 873-0111






The GNWT is committed to improving the availability and effectiveness of mental health and addictions treatment.  This three-year action plan is a road map for improving mental health and reducing addictions.

The four goals of the action plan are:

  • promoting understanding and awareness
  • focusing on the person
  • improving the availability of and access to services
  • improving the effectiveness of services

This action plan will transform our system by streamlining services so individuals with mental health or addiction problems can access the programs and services they need. We want to make sure that our residents who have addictions or mental health problems get the support they need to be independent, self-reliant and active members of their communities.

Our action plan was developed in partnership with stakeholders. We spoke to people from across the territory who had experienced mental health and addiction issues and had been clients in our system. We also engaged key stakeholders in the addiction and mental health fields. This included health care professionals, social services professionals, GNWT departments, aboriginal governments, and community groups. The final product brings together the experience of those with lived experience and promising program practices from across Canada.


  • Only 64% of NWT residents rate their mental health as good or very good, compared to the Canadian average of 73%;
  • The proportion of NWT residents hospitalized for a mental illness remained fairly stable over the last 15 years, at about 1.4% of the population;
  • Of persons hospitalized for mental illness:
    • 58% are for substance-related disorders;
    • 16% are for mood disorders;
    • 12% are for schizophrenia and psychotic disorders;
    • 8% are for anxiety and adjustment disorders; and
    • 6% are for other mental health disorders.
  • The average rate of 1.8 suicides per 10,000 (2003-2007) is 65% higher than the Canadian average of 1.1 per 10,000 (2005).
  • From 2000-2009, 45% of unintentional-injury deaths in the NWT were related to alcohol intoxication (Office of the Chief Coroner, 2012).
  • 43% of residents report that they typically consume 5 or more drinks on one occasion.  This is an increase from 34% in 1996.
  • 64% of residents aged 15-24 consume 5 or more drinks on a single occasion, and 1 in 4 engage in heavy drinking at least once per week.
  • At least 11% of the population is using cannabis weekly.
  • The number of people who reported trying an illicit drug (cocaine/crack, hallucinogens, speed, ecstasy and heroin) at least once in their lifetime increased from 16% in 2002 to 24% in 2009.
  • The Mental Health Commission of Canada released Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada on May 8, 2012.