Native American Heritage Month: Supporting Mental Health

Guest Blog By: Circles of Care California Cohort*

November is Native American Heritage Month and at Each Mind Matters, we are committed to sharing resources and supporting the Native American community.

Strength, resiliency, and hope are critical cultural characteristics that continue to be sustained in Native American communities across California. Many families of all backgrounds have experienced some type of trauma, but for Native American families, there has often been both personal and historical trauma. Experiencing trauma can result in a higher likelihood of facing health, mental health and substance use challenges.  

According to the American Psychiatric Association, Native Americans experience serious psychological distress one and one-half times more often than the general population, and experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) more than twice as often as the general population. Native Americans also experience alcohol and drug addiction at younger ages and at higher rates than all other ethnic groups. Reaching out for help can be challenging and knowing where to start might seem overwhelming.

The Circles of Care California Cohort and Each Mind Matters recently partnered to develop the “Mental Health Support Guide for Native Families” guide. Its goal is not only to reduce mental health stigma and discrimination in a culturally appropriate manner, but also to encourage families to reach out for help when needed.

Some of the highlights from the guide include:

  • How Native American history affects today’s population
  • Approaches to healing
  • Different forms of support and where to find it
  • Contact information for all Native American Behavioral Health Centers in California

Approaches to healing and support may differ for each individual. For many young people, the most effective care is a mix of cultural tradition and medical intervention. Every step toward better mental health should be celebrated, and everyone’s path to wellness is unique. Some additional places to find support might include:

  • Contacting the Behavioral Health Department in your county: bit.ly/2PPYzUw
  • Connecting with support groups: bit.ly/1HNmHLL
  • Getting emergency housing, food, and other support: call 211, or visit 211.org.
  • Texting with a trained crisis counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: text “Home” to 741741

This month and every month, we recognize the vital contributions made by Native people to the establishment and growth of the United States. In honor of Native American heritage month, we encourage you to check out the new support guide here, and to spend some time at the Each Mind Matters Resource Center browsing through all of our available Native American resources.


Circles of Care California Cohort:

Jeanine Gaines (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), Sacramento Native American Health Center
Dayna Barrios (Ventureño Chumash), Sacramento Native American Health Center
Montana Weekes, California Consortium for Urban Indian Health
Antonio Luna, MA (Tlingit), San Diego American Indian Health Center
And the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA)


*Guest blog: Each Mind Matters provides a platform for open dialogue and varying perspectives about mental health. The opinions of the author of guest blogs don’t necessarily reflect those of Each Mind Matters. If you have questions or comments about a blog written by a guest writer we encourage you to continue the discussion with the author by contacting the organization listed in the bio.