Updates to Mental Health Counselling Programs


The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) works closely with funding partners and community to carefully evaluate the sustainability and cultural safety of First Nations Health B​​enefits and Services (FNHBS) programs for Clients. As a result of this review, there have been several updates to the Mental Health programs and services, effective April 15, 2024.​

What are the changes?

  1. Mental Health program eligibility. Mental Health programs and services will now have the same eligibility as all other FNHBS programs. These services will be available for Status First Nations who meet the Medical Service Plan definition of residency in BC (three months). For more information about eligibility and enrolling with FNHBS, click the link

  2. Mental Wellness & Counselling program. FNHBS will serve Clients under one program. This includes the following programs: Mental Wellness Counselling program, the Indian Residential School Resolution Health Support Program (IRS RHSP), Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Health Support Services (MMIWG HSS) and the Indian Day School Health Support Services (IDS HSS).

  3. Mental Health Provider eligibility. In addition to existing Provider eligibility, new Providers must have a minimum of five years’ counselling experience and a minimum of three years’ counselling experience serving First Nations people.

Why is the FNHA making these changes?

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement concluded on March 31, 2021. Since April 1, 2021 funding for mental wellness supports for survivors of Indian Residential Schools and their family members has been provided on a policy basis by our federal government partners as opposed to on the basis of a legal requirement. While our federal partners have been able to fund the deficits incurred by the FNHA due to increased usage and expenditures over the years, this practice will no longer be possible. After an evaluation of current program usage and available funding a decision was made to align the mental wellness counselling eligibility with the rest of the First Nations Health Benefits and Services’ (FNHBS) eligibility criteria that serves First Nations people living in BC with Status.

Mental health and wellness support continues to be available to IRS Survivors and their impacted family members through IRS programs listed on this


I’m seeing a counsellor right now, but I’m not a Status First Nation. What do I do after April 15, 2024?

Coverage is available until April 30, 2024. If you do not meet the new Mental Wellness Counselling program Client eligibility criteria, coverage is available for up to 4 hours prior to April 30, 2024. For additional mental health resources, please click the link here. If you need any support to navigate the FNHA-funded health and cultural supports please email us at MHWPrograms@fnha.ca.​

I’m an Indigenous person but not a First Nations person with Status. Can I still register as a new Client to receive up to four session during the month of April 2024?

Only First Nations people with Status and live in BC will be eligible to register for counselling services effective immediately.

I have a
Métis Membership number, is that considered Status under the new eligibility requirements effective April 15, 2024?

A Métis membership number does not meet the eligibility criteria for the Mental Wellness and Counselling program. The Mental Wellness and Counselling eligibility requires that Clients have a Status number as defined by the Indian Act. You can learn more about registering for Status

For further information about Client eligibility, please visit the Health Benefits

I am an Indian Residential School (IRS) Survivor without Status. My family and I were accessing counselling services through FNHBS before, am I eligible after April 15, 2024?

Effective immediately only First Nations Clients with Status will be eligible for the Mental Wellness and Counselling program. Additional FNHA-funded supports are available to IRS Survivors and family members. You can find the supports at the link

How does FNHA’s mental wellness counselling program compare with Non-insured Health Benefits (NIHB) eligibility and coverage for First Nations people in other provinces and territories?

The NIHB program provides coverage to First Nations people who are registered under the Indian Act, c​ommonly referred to as a “Status Indian”. Every 12 months an eligible Client can receive up to 22 hours of counselling performed by an eligible Provider. Additional hours in the same 12 month period may be provided on a case by case basis.

I still have other questions, who do I contact?

Questions about eligibility: contact FNHBS at 1-855-550-5454.

If you need any support to navigate the FN​HA-funded health and cultural supports: email MHWPrograms@fnha.ca .

A Mental Wellness and Counselling frequently​ asked resource for Providers is available here .


24 Hour mental health supports:

Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention by phone or online chat. Call toll-free 1-855-242-3310 or start a confidential chat with a counsellor at hopeforwellness.ca.

Indian Residential School Crisis Line is a national service for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience. Call toll-free 1-866-925-4419.

KUU-US Crisis Line Society provides crisis services for Indigenous people across BC. Adults/Elders line 250-723-4050; youth line 250-723-2040. Or call toll free 1-800-588-8717. Learn more at www.kuu-uscrisisline.com.

Métis Crisis Line is a service of Métis Nation British Columbia. Call 1-833-MétisBC (1-833-638-4722).

For a full list of mental health and wellness supports, please visit the link here.


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