6 Mental Health Resources for Indigenous Peoples in the U.S.Bookmark this just in case.
Taking care of your mental health is never easy, but finding help can be even harder for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) peoples. For one, many Indigenous peoples in the U.S. live in rural and remote locales, meaning in-person care can sometimes be states away, says clinical community psychologist and research fellow at Yale School of Medicine Maria Christina Crouch, PhD, of the Deg Hit'an and Coahuiltecan Tribes.
But even if there is a mental health pro in the area, affording care is another massive barrier since many AI/AN peoples are uninsured or underinsured, especially compared to other groups, says Dr. Crouch. “Finding care for anyone experiencing mental health issues or in need of mental health maintenance is very important, but we know that certain groups of people carry a higher burden of mental health challenges and do not have equitable means or access to care,” says Dr. Crouch.
That’s a big problem since AI/AN peoples, made up of 574 federally recognized tribes, face similar traumas that can impact mental health. “We share histories of colonial invasion and trauma; we faced unspeakable atrocities that have reverberated for generations,” says Dr. Crouch. She cites the oppression many of these groups have faced, like being forced into boarding schools, experiencing bias, bigotry, police brutality, and poverty.
This intergenerational trauma from past and current oppression has led many to distrust government services, including resources that provide mental health care, as well as one-on-one therapy, especially with non-AI/AN providers, notes Chenoa Crowshoe-Patterson, (Blackfeet/Karuk tribes), LCSW, a therapist with the Native American Counseling and Healing Collective.
With that in mind, we asked these experts for the resources specifically dedicated to the AI/AN peoples' mental health. These can ease the burdens you might be carrying, while also centering your culture and incorporating traditional American Indian and Alaska Native modalities of healing. “Our culture is powerful,” Dr. Crouch says. “I am keenly aware of the beautiful, enduring, and rich cultures of our communities. Culture that is, indeed, medicine.”
1. Indian Health Service (IHS)
IHS is a federally funded program that provides health care resources for the 2.6 million AI/AN peoples.
With the IHS Find Health Care tool, you can locate your nearest Indian Health Service, Tribal or Urban Indian Health Program facility, including those that offer behavioral and mental health care services. “Some offer traditional healing clinics and most try to integrate culturally relevant care,” says Dr. Crouch. She notes that some centers offer transportation, and she suggests calling your local facility to get a better picture of what services are actually available.
You can also click through a list of region-specific IHS Mental Health Programs here, learn more about trauma-informed care here, and find IHS Youth Regional Treatment Centers, which address substance abuse and co-occurring mental health problems in teens, here.
2. Psychology Today’s Native American database
Therapist directories like this one are a great tool for anyone searching for a therapist. And Psychology Today has a list specifically for AI/AN peoples—just type in your location and browse through the options that pop up. You can also filter your search by gender, language, price, insurance, expertise (e.g., addiction, grief), therapy style (CBT, DBT, EMDR, family therapy, etc.), remote options, and more. When it comes to pricing, some will be open to charging you based on income rather than a set fee (also known as a sliding scale), says Dr. Crouch.
3. Inclusive Therapists
A network of psychologists, social workers, family therapists, coaches, and psychiatrists, Inclusive Therapists is focused on providing identity-affirming care to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. On their site, click “Find Therapists & Coaches Near You,” then “Browse by Categories,” and select “Indigenous Cultures” under “Cultural Knowledge” to narrow your search to AI/AN therapists or those who are educated about your community.
Inclusive Therapists also offers a service in which you can fill out a form with your preferences and get matched with up to three providers for free. Under “Community Resources,” you can also find an “Events & Groups Calendar.” Once you’re there, type "Indigenous" in the "event or group search" box to learn about support groups and workshops near you.
4. StrongHearts Native HelpLine (844-762-8483)
This domestic, dating, and sexual violence helpline is specifically for AI/AN peoples, offering culturally relevant support. You can talk to someone 24/7 over the phone or via online chat, and the conversations are confidential and anonymous. Advocates on the line can support you in a crisis and can refer you to Native-centered domestic and sexual violence service providers for follow-up.
5. White Bison
The White Bison organization offers sobriety, recovery, and addiction prevention resources to AI/AN peoples nationwide. Focused on the concept of “Wellbriety,” or wellness and thriving beyond getting sober, White Bison organizes over 100 Wellbriety circles, which offer a culturally based approach to 12-step programming.
White Bison centers the Seventh Generation Principle, an ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) philosophy that states that decisions made today should result in a positive, sustainable world seven generations into the future. On the White Bison site, you can find Wellbriety Certified Treatment Centers, which meet certain culturally relevant criteria (employing at least one person of Native American ancestry, utilizing healing practices like smudging and sweat lodges, providing access to a Native American elder, etc). You can also sign up for daily email meditations from the organization.
6. We R Native
It’s a comprehensive health resource for AI/AN youth that provides content and stories about the topics that matter most to young folks in the community, including mental health care. The site offers an “Ask Your Relative” portal, where users can submit questions to a team of educators, public health professionals, and caring adults with an AI/AN background. Kids can also find educational materials on everything from puberty and cultural identities to relationships and mental health challenges, plus AI/AN-specific text lines.
Wondermind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Always consult a qualified health or mental health professional with any questions or concerns about your mental health.