Sunday, January 19, 2014

Challenges in Native American Mental Health

Native Americans have challenges to maintaining mental health as everyone does. Some of these challenges are unique to a given tribe and some are shared with the dominant culture, but often with a different proportional mix.


Some of those shared challenges are the most basic; Attitudes. A background of self-reliance and other cultural strengths can serve to keep people stuggling unnecessarily.


Asking for assistance would seem to be especially accepted within the tribal context of hopeful concern but this is not always the case. The optimism and sense of acceptance of life situations, is a true cultural strength.


Ironically, some individuals have interpreted this to mean that they must wait and endure what comes without much ability to influence the course of things for the better. Improving our life situations requires that we do things diferently; to actively pursue our ideal life rather than waiting for things to get better.


The close-knit tribal community can make some feel that their actions are being observed by all and even being judged as inappropriate somehow. Fear of being "looked down upon" or being thought of as "crazy" is an important consideration to many who hesitate to get mental health care.


Privacy is therefore of primary importance among those who have been overly-scrutinized or harshly judged by others.


The anxiety of potential social stigma often


Historical Trauma is a unique aspect in Native American mental health. The historical context of anyone's life has to be factored into their care.


Close Knit community


So what do we do with or about these issues? This is not an exhaustive list. Start from where you are now and recognize the potential of what your life might be.


Practice collaborative thinking. If two heads are better than one, then how might you benefit from a partnership with a friend, a family member, a church pastor or a mental health professional? Resolve to work with others to find the answers you need.


Approach a problem from every angle. If your efforts have not been effective so far, is there another option for dealing with them? All of us can benefit from constructive conversations about dealing with situations that are familiar to us.


Be brave and don't stop until you have the life you want. You can do it.


Live Well.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Feeling Discouraged or Worse?

You’ve tried it all and it hasn't worked. Everything you've done has gone wrong. Maybe this feeling has lasted for a day. Maybe it has been longer. But, you’re tired and deflated and in your worst moments you think about wanting everything to stop hurting. This can all feel overwhelming and we can spend years in the cycle of fatigue and discouragement if we don’t see beyond it.

Feeling helpless can lead to your feeling hopeless and depressed eventually. People in this situation will often go far too long before seeking any kind of help. Most focus on asking why they feel this way or “what else do I need to do to move past this?” The best course is to get help immediately, and certainly if you feel self-destructive, and regardless after no more than a couple of weeks. Use your friends and family for support and go see a therapist that you like and connect with.

My hope is that someday people will think of going to a therapist in the same way they think of going to the dentist. Go if you think you have the need and before a major problem develops.

If you are not choosing to get professional help and are not suicidal, you now have few options. You might as well try again.

Take a small step in the right direction. Make it one you cannot fail at completing. Make a short list of next steps or better yet make a short list of people who can help you. Even if that help is only to listen. This is often the best help anyone can provide when you feel low.

Complaining, or venting, is fine for a while. Get it out of your system. But don’t stay there indefinitely. Commit to taking action of some kind. Make sure it is small enough to be doable and points you in the right direction for yourself.

You can start with what you used to be interested in. What did you want or like or do that brought you joy? Don’t remember? Start with what resonates with you now even if it is only a small pull. Music? Reading? Online services like Pulse or Flipboard can provide you with a lot of great content to peruse. Walking or other exercise is very helpful. Maybe join an online forum or your local church or social group from someplace like Meetup.com (a great resource).

There are lots of ways to get going again. And that is the key to feeling better. Get up and get out there. Easier said than done sometimes, but you can do it. Dont wait for your thoughts to guide you. Just go in the direction of the resonance. Incorporate your friends and family. And, eventually, the joy will follow.

Live well now