The cumulative emotional trauma spanning generations of American Indian and Alaska Natives—also known as historical trauma—continues to affect behavioral health and wellness among families and Tribes. Special considerations must be accounted for when working with this population. Resources in this section provide information on mental health disparities as they relate to American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, as well as effective treatment adaptations.
Behavioral Health Among American Indian and Alaska Natives: An Overview (PDF - 828)
Bagalman & Heisler (2016)
Congressional Research Service
Presents intersecting issues contributing the mental health disparities in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, including limited access to treatment and increased risk factors.
Cultural Adaptations of Trauma Treatments in Indian Country (PDF - 1,500 KB)
Whitegoat & van den Pohl (2013)
Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare
CW360º: A Comprehensive Look at a Prevalent Child Welfare Issue
Describes how traditional native culture activities have been integrated into evidence-based trauma treatments at the National Native Children's Trauma Center in Montana. The article reports that the cultural adaptations enhance acceptability, sustainability, and effectiveness of trauma treatments, as well as the engagement of local community members in participatory dialog regarding their perceptions on the value of treating childhood trauma, the outcomes of successful trauma treatment, and whether there are traditional support strategies that could be blended with the evidence-based trauma treatment.
Mental and Behavioral Health - American Indians/Alaska Natives
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health
Explores disproportionate rates of specific mental health symptoms with American Indians and Alaska Native populations compared with other ethnic groups within the United States.
Mental Health Disparities: Diverse Populations
American Psychiatric Association (2017)
Offers resources specific to Native Americans and Alaska Natives that present information about how cultural values and systemic injustices contribute to behavioral health disparities among indigenous people in the United States.
Native American Communities and Mental Health
Mental Health America (2020)
Provides an overview of the prevalence rates of mental health disorders among American Indian and Alaska Native communities, as well as common treatment issues and access to mental health services.
Resources Specific to American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) Communities
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
Provides a list of trauma-informed resources designed to support service providers in creating culturally responsive services and treatments for American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
TIP 61: Behavioral Health Services for American Indians and Alaska Natives
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2019)
Offers population-specific information and guidance to providers on delivering culturally responsive behavioral health services.
Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Provides broad, focused, and intensive training and technical assistance on mental and substance use disorders, suicide prevention, and the promotion of mental health to federally recognized Tribes, other American Indian/Alaska Native communities, SAMHSA Tribal grantees, and organizations serving Indian Country. The Tribal TTA Center uses a culturally relevant, evidence-based, holistic approach to support Native communities in their self-determination efforts through infrastructure development and capacity building, as well as program planning and implementation.