Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Red Deer College

Banner Image

Counselling Services

Counselling services and supports are inclusive, confidential, and available to all RDC students free of charge.

Mental Health & Indigenous Students

Family violence, suicide, and substance use problems are common among Aboriginal peoples in Alberta. Many of the mental health issues facing Aboriginal peoples today are rooted in historical and socio-economic factors. Family violence, including physical and sexual abuse, is often the reason for referrals to mental health centres and hospitals. This can be directly related to the historical legacy of Aboriginal people, such as the residential school system. Suicide among Aboriginal peoples, but more specifically among Aboriginal youth, is of major concern provincially and nationally. Various studies estimate the average rate of youth suicide in some Aboriginal communities is eight times higher than the national average. The Canadian Population Health Initiative (2004) states “the social, economic and environmental conditions of Aboriginal people are worse than those of non-Aboriginal people. These include education, work status, income, housing, water and sewage systems and nutritional options that are readily available and affordable” (Aboriginal Mental Health: A Framework for Alberta, 2009).

Image of Medicine Wheel


Indigenous healing methods use holistic approaches that focus on the connection with family, community, spirituality and nature. Traditional healing may include ceremonies, songs, stories, dances, prayers, traditional medicines, healing circles, talking circles, and connection to Elders.

The Medicine Wheel, sometimes known as the Sacred Hoop, has been used by generations of various Native American tribes for health and healing. It embodies the Four Directions, as well as Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Spirit Tree—all of which symbolize dimensions of health and the cycles of life.

Movement in the Medicine Wheel and in Native American ceremonies is circular, and typically in a clockwise, or “sun-wise” direction. This helps to align with the forces of Nature, such as gravity and the rising and setting of the Sun (Native Peoples Concept of Health & Illness, 2020).

Hope For Wellness Helpline


Available to all Indigenous peoples across Canada who are seeking immediate crisis intervention. Available in English, French, Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut.


National Indian Residential School Crisis Line


 A national, 24-hour toll-free support service operated by trained crisis counselors, many of whom are Indigenous.