Mental Illness In Native Americans Essay

1284 words - 6 pages

In Sherman Alexie’s novel Indian Killer, there are many characters who struggle with mental disorders. Alexie states “She was manic-depressive and simply couldn’t take care of herself,” this is just one of the mental illnesses suffered in the book (212). Mental disorders are prevalent in the United States. All races are at risk of mental illness. In the article "Mental Health and Substance Abuse Characteristics Among a Clinical Sample of Urban American Indian/Alaska Native Youths in a Large California Metropolitan Area: a Descriptive Study" Daniel Dickerson and Carrie Johnson state “AI/ANs [American Indians/ Alaska Native] between the ages of 15 and 24 have the highest suicide rates in the United States compared to other racial/ethnic groups” (Dickerson and Johnson, 56). Native Americans are highly perceptible to mental illness due to the historical trauma their culture has endured.
In the article “Native Americans” Warren Skye, Robert Schore, and Rachel Levenson state “Traditionally, AI/AN believed all illness was caused by demoniacal interference, malignant spirits, sorcery, or failure to perform an important ritual” (Skye et al). Today that belief is gone. Native Americans now have a modern view about illnesses and medicine. In Bonnie Duran, Margaret Sanders, Betty Skipper, Howard Waitzkin, Lorraine Halinka Malcoa, Susan Paine, and Joel Yager article “Prevalence and Correlates of Mental Disorders Among Native American Women in Primary Care” they state “Available evidence suggests that mental illness, mental dysfunction, or self-destructive behavior affects approximately 21% of the total AI\AN population, costing an estimated $1.07 billion and causing incalculable human suffering” (Duran et al, 71). In reservations there are not many resources available to help the Native Americans through their mental disorders. The absence of resources is due in part to the lack of government funding for reservations. Also the reservations do not have the means to accommodate such expenditures. Due to the lack of resources these issues are most likely to continue to grow into more harmful to the individuals. Dickerson and Johnson state “due to low socioeconomic status levels known to exist among AI/AN… accessing culturally relevant, affordable, and adequate mental health care may have been significantly challenging, resulting in more significant mental health problems” (Dickerson and Johnson, 59).
Historically, Native Americans have been put through a lot of hardship. They were thrown into wars, massacred for their land, and almost wiped out because of new diseases brought over by the British. In the document “Native American Indian Killers” Ernie Salgado Jr., a Soboba Indian, states “Our history is one of abuse by the majority population leading to the loss of culture, land, language, and self-determination” (Salgado). The abuse they underwent led to mental issues for many of them. Skye, Schore, and Levenson state “Contemporary thinking correlates mental...

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