Phase two of Mental Wellness Summit builds momentum to increase mental wellness supports and address substance use in the Yukon

By September 27, 2022News Release

Phase two of the 2022 Mental Wellness Summit was held on September 21 to September 23 at the Sternwheeler Hotel & Conference Centre and Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre.

Close to 350 people attended the three-day event, which was hosted in-person and virtually by the Government of Yukon in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations.

The Summit brought together local, national and international leaders, partners, Yukoners and people with lived and living experiences. Presenters covered a range of topics including stigma, treatment, support services, aftercare, rural medicine, housing, justice and harm reduction models and solutions. The Yukon government and health system partners also provided updates on the work underway to respond to the Substance Use Health Emergency declared earlier this year.

In addition, more than 40 speakers and experts discussed Integration and Innovation in Mental Wellness and Substance Use Support during a series of presentations, discussions, breakout sessions and workshops. 

This summit  followed the two-day online Mental Wellness Summit held in February and will inform the development of a new Substance Use Action Plan to guide the Yukon’s continued response to the Substance Use Health Emergency.

Yukoners who wish to share their feedback on the Summit or ask questions can do so by completing a survey on the Summit website. Those who would like to view any of the presentations from the first or second phases of the Summit can do so by visiting the Yukon Substance Use Health Emergency website.


CYFN acknowledges the Yukon government for initiating these Summits and was pleased to work in partnership to produce this event. The event brought together key representatives from across the spectrum of community service providers and government to push beyond the status quo and conventional practices in order to forge a better way forward in working to address the needs of those that struggle with mental wellness challenges in the territory. We know that Yukon First Nations are disproportionately affected by this crisis and these somber numbers are exacerbated by so many factors. The truth is, we can never do enough to help when it comes to this critical task of working to ensure that no one is left behind and that we don’t lose any more people in our communities needlessly. 

–         Grand Chief Peter Johnston, Council of Yukon First Nations

“Phase two of the Mental Wellness Summit was a great success because of the participants that work every day in our communities. A special thanks to all presenters, experts, people with lived or living experiences who came from near and far who shared so much with us over 3-days. Since declaring a Substance Use Health Emergency, health system partners across the territory have worked hard to increase harm reduction initiatives, promote well-being and save lives. This Summit is an important element of that continued work and represents a call to action for all Yukoners to contribute in building a stronger, more inclusive territory for everyone.”

–         Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy Anne-McPhee

Quick facts

·         Close to 350 participants from across the Yukon and Canada attended the second phase of the Yukon government’s Mental Wellness Summit, hosted in person and virtually on September 21, 22 and 23, 2022.

·         The most attended sessions covered Indigenous-led approaches to healing, on-the-land healing, reconciliation, new narrative-based considerations in mental health and the impact of culture-based interventions.

·         Perspectives and solutions brought forward at the Summit will support the Government of Yukon’s new Opioid Action Plan to build that will continue to guide our territory’s response to the Substance Use Health Emergency.

·         Never use alone – call the National Opioid Response Service at 1-888-688-6677. This anonymous service will have someone stay on the phone with you so you can use safer.

·         If you are thinking of changing or managing your opioid use the Opioid Treatment Services can help, call 867-668-2552.

·         Rapid Access Counselling is available to all Yukoners – call 867-456-3838 to make a counselling appointment within 72 hours.


·         As part of its response to the Substance Use Health Emergency, the Yukon government has worked closely with community and health system partners to expand and improve several services and supports for mental health and substance use. 

·         This fiscal year, the Yukon government is investing more than $5.5 million to immediately respond to the Substance Use Health Emergency, in addition to the millions more offered through related programming.

·         Since the Substance Use Health Emergency was declared earlier this year, the Supervised Consumption Site in Whitehorse was renovated to support the use of inhalants, the most common method of substance us in the Yukon, and hours of operation were increased. Visits to the Supervised Consumption Site have increased significantly since this enhancement.

·         Emergency medical services staff have been increased at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter at 405 Alexander.

·         Additional staff and resources have helped expand services through the Opioid Treatment Services Clinic.

·         In July, Mental Wellness and Substance Use Services launched a new Overdose Outreach Team, which helps people who are at risk of overdose navigate the health system, access harm reduction education and connect with mental wellness and substance use services.

·         Over 5,000 take-home naloxone kits have been distributed in the Yukon this year. Kits are easily accessible through emergency departments in Yukon’s hospitals, and both nasal and injectable naloxone kits are available across the territory at various health sites and through other partners, like pharmacies.

·         New Mobile Paramedic Specialists, who work closely with Mental Wellness and Substance Use Services and Blood Ties Four Directions, recently launched in Whitehorse.

·         The Department of Health and Social Services is working closely with the Council of Yukon First Nations, Blood Ties Four Directions, and several other community and health partners on a territory-wide public education campaign to increase awareness about resources available across the territory and reduce stigma around substance use.


Renée Francoeur
Cabinet Communications

Carleen Kerr
Communications, Health and Social Services

Lael Lund
Communications Manager, Council of Yukon First Nations