Native Americans’ Mental Health Essay

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Native Americans’ Mental Health Essay

Native Americans’ Mental Health Essay


Native Americans tend to acquire mental illnesses more often than other cultural groups that live in the USA. Suicide and depression rates among these indigenous peoples are growing. Native Americans are reluctant to seek help in medical facilities due to distrust and lack of awareness of the Native context among clinicians. Nurses and other medical professionals need to be attentive to Native Americans’ health care needs and provide culturally appropriate interventions.


The mental health of Native Americans raises concerns among American medical professionals due to the increased risk of substance abuse, violence, suicide, and post-traumatic stress. The agencies that provide health care services for communities of Native Americans are unable to cope with their rising demands because they are understaffed and underfunded, thus leaving Native Americans’ mental health problems unaddressed and aggravating (Gone & Trimble, 2012). So far, the state is unable to address the health care needs of this cultural group and provide them with efficient healthcare that will also consider their cultural background.Native Americans’ Mental Health Essay

Aim and Purpose

The aim of this paper is to understand what healthcare needs with regard to mental health Native Americans (adults, adolescents, and children) might have and how they can be addressed to reduce the rate of incidents related to mental health issues in Native Americans (e.g. suicides). The risk factors that can lead to mental health illnesses in Native Americans will also be addressed. Furthermore, the author also aims to understand what techniques are used by Native healers and how they reflect the relevant health care needs of Native Americans. The impact of discrimination on the mental health of the target population will also be addressed in this paper.

Research Method

The research method is a literature review. The author examined the current literature on the mental health problems of Native Americans and obtained three articles that address the following research questions:

RQ 1. What barriers do Native Americans face when they try to access mental health services? Native Americans’ Mental Health Essay

 RQ2. What are the reasons behind the increased rates of mental health illnesses diagnosed in Native Americans?

RQ 3. What strategies do Native healers use that can help clinicians address the health care needs of Native Americans?

Using a literature review as a research method for this paper, the author aims to answer three research questions, understand whether the current health care services are efficient for Native Americans, and discuss how the findings can change nursing practice if taken into consideration. Native Americans’ Mental Health Essay

Review of Literature

West, Williams, Suzukovich, Strangeman, and Novins (2012) discuss the interconnection between community characteristics, health care needs, and mental health in urban Native American youth and families. The potential loss of cultural knowledge decreased interdependence, violence, financial instability, and parenting challenges (teenage or single-parent families) are indicated as factors that severely affect the life in the community. Furthermore, the participants of the study also noted the presence of indicators of negative mental health, such as violence, substance abuse, poverty, and high-stress levels.

The service system needs are the needs for funding and improvements in infrastructure (West et al., 2012). Due to understaffing, constantly changing mental health services are unable to meet Native Americans’ needs in mental health care. Furthermore, they also indicated the need for specific services that would target Native American youth and be culturally relevant (based on spiritual practices). Native Americans also need more programs that will promote general wellness in their communities. A culturally appropriate balance between spiritual and medical practices can encourage Native Americans to seek help in medical facilities rather than among peers and their families. Native Americans’ Mental Health Essay

Barriers that restrict access to health care for Native Americans are the following: poor communication, stigma, practical barriers (e.g. transportation), and lack of knowledge about the mental health services (West et al., 2012). Some of the participants who took part in the study acknowledged they preferred using community supports, family members, or peers to cope with distress rather than seek professional medical help.