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NWT releases new mental health and substance abuse video campaign

Dez Loreen features in a We Need To Talk About This Stuff video.

A new video series, We Need To Talk About This Stuff, aims to erase the stigma surrounding substance abuse and mental health in the NWT.

The three-part campaign features six northerners discussing their experiences with drugs, alcohol, and their well-being.

Inuvik resident Dez Loreen, one of the participants and a Cabin Radio host, said he became involved because “it’s very important that we have a dialogue about safe substance use and safe partying here in the Arctic.”

“People need to hear these messages from local people who are here on the ground, that they see in our community,” Loreen said.



Alana Kronstal, manager of social marketing and health promotion for the Department of Health and Social Services, said the GNWT realized “there was a lot of power” in residents’ stories.

“We sought permission from them to use these stories as video clips that others could hear first-hand and learn from, maybe see themselves a little bit in, and get some knowledge and wisdom from others who may have walked a similar path,” said Kronstal.

“During Covid-19, a lot of people’s mental health has been affected and substance use has been a major way that people have coped with the stresses of the pandemic.”

The videos are available on the Health and Social Services website and YouTube. The department plans longer segments from more people in the future.

“There are a lot of different pathways to wellness,” Kronstal said. “We need lots of different perspectives, like community counsellors, helping professionals, Elders, and others who may help in a more informal capacity that have a lot of knowledge to share.

“It’s a common experience. We’re just trying to show as many people as possible these stories so that people don’t feel like they’re being judged just by being human.”

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