This past Monday was Indigenous Peoples’ Day. On this day Native American people and their history are celebrated and honored. Indigenous people have faced discrimination and lack of opportunity for many years which has caused different mental health concerns for Native individuals. The multi-generational trauma which Native individuals have experienced could be a contributing factor to mental illness, substance use disorders, and even suicide. The statistics are alarming and saddening when it comes to the rates of mental health concerns for Indigenous people. According to NAMI 19% of Native adults experience mental illness in a given year. Some research studies show that alcohol and other drugs are used at younger ages and at higher rates compared to other ethnic groups. We also know suicide rates for Native youth are over double the rate of white youth.
Knowing these statistics, it is important Native individuals have access to mental health resources. Unfortunately, there are many barriers which they face. A few of these barriers include living in rural locations, having less health care insurance coverage, mental health providers not understanding their culture, language barriers, and poverty and unemployment. These barriers prevent many Native individuals from receiving the mental health help they need. Even though there are many barriers which they face, there are resources available for Native people to help them through mental health and substance use struggles.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention compiled resources for Native and Indigenous Communities. They are listed below.
- Center for Native American Youth: cnay.org
- Inclusive Therapists: inclusivetherapists.com
- Indian Health Service, Division of Behavioral Health: ihs.gov/dbh
- Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault Helpline for Native Americans: strongheartshelpline.org
- Mental Health Technology Transfer Center: mhttcnetwork.org/centers/national-american-indian-and-alaska-native-mhttc
- We R Native: wernative.org
- Zero Suicide in Indian Country: zerosuicide.edc.org/toolkit/toolkit-adaptations/indian-country
Another great resource for individuals who live in Nebraska is Society of Care, https://societyofcare.org/. Society of Care provides accessible and culturally sensitive behavioral health care for Native individuals. support.
As stated above Indigenous people are dealing with mental health concerns at a high rate and unfortunately, there are many barriers for Native people to access the help they need. But there is hope and help IS available. If you are a Native individual and are struggling with your mental health, please know there are resources available where you can receive help. The resources listed above are all great resources. There is also the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are still struggling and do not know where to turn, do not hesitate to call them at 1.800.273.8255. Your life is incredibly important, and you matter greatly.
Katie Zimmerman, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Katie Zimmerman joined The Kim Foundation in June 2019. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and Sociology from Central College in Pella, Iowa. During her time in college, she volunteered at many non-profit organizations and took multiple sociology classes which focused on mental health. Katie’s role at The Kim Foundation includes running the social media accounts, assisting in the Youth Advisory Council, and providing mental health awareness and education to the community through A Voice for Hope and Healing presentations.