American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health: Diverse Perspectives on Enduring Disparities

About the Course:

This article addresses several important factors associated with the provision of mental health services to American Indian/Alaskan Native populations; including the following:
1. Societal shifts in ethno-racial identification whereby formerly non-Native individuals are increasingly self-reporting American Indian/Alaskan Native identities is rendering mental health status of these groups increasingly difficult to study.
2. American Indian/Alaskan Natives suffer from specific mental health disparities including proportionately high rates of substance abuse, posttraumatic stress, youth behavior problems, and suicide.
3. Mental health services provided specifically for American Indian/Alaskan Natives are funded primarily by the federal government and administered by the Indian Health Service or tribal governments.
4. Although a few evidence-based treatments have been culturally adapted for use with American Indian/Alaskan Native clients, very little empirical intervention outcome research has been conducted with these populations.
5. Many American Indian/Alaskan Natives are skeptical toward or dismissive of mainstream mental health services owing to differences in cultural orientation and commitments to tribal self-determination.
The authors conclude by presenting two distinctive pathways toward future elimination of American Indian/Alaskan Native mental health disparities. These include (1) solutions grounded in professional knowledge, activities, and institutions in the context of clinical health services, and (2) alternative pathways grounded in local American Indian/Alaskan Native knowledge, activities, and institutions in the context of community projects of cultural reclamation and tribal self-determination.


Annual Review of Clinical Psychology

Publication Date:



Joseph P. Gone

Joseph P. Gone is associate professor of Psychology (Clinical Area) and American Culture (Native American Studies) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Gone has published more than 50 articles and chapters exploring the cultural psychology of self, identity, personhood, and social relations in indigenous community settings vis-à-vis the mental health professions, with particular attention to therapeutic interventions such as psychotherapy and traditional healing.

Joseph E. Trimble

Joseph E. Trimble is a Professor of Psychology at Western Washington University. Throughout his career he has focused his efforts on promoting psychological and sociocultural research with indigenous populations, especially American Indians and Alaska Natives. Such efforts have included the presentation of over 150 papers, invited addresses, and invited lectures at professional meetings, and generated over 140 publications and technical reports on topics in psychology and higher education research including 18 authored or edited books. Dr. Trimble’s excellence in teaching and research has been recognized by his peers over the years, resulting in numerous academic awards.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially addiction counselors, psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, and nurses who seek knowledge about substance abuse on Amercan Indians and Alaska Natives. It is appropriate for intermediate to advanced levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Recognize the specific challenges of identifying and defining American Indian/Alaskan Natives.

  2. Summarize the disparities in mental health status that afflict American Indian/Alaskan Natives.

  3. Identify key factors regarding American Indian/Alaskan Native mental health sevices including their availability and effectiveness.

  4. Examine competing alternatives for how best to remedy the mental health problems of American Indian/Alaskan Natives.

Course Article

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Course Number: 102175
Credit Hours: 4cr
NBCC Credit Hours: 4cr
Exam Fee: $27.88
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Format: Online Article
4.4 out of 5
Popularity: 251 members have taken this course