American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities are composed of numerous distinct tribes, bands, and villages; many of these groups reside in North America as sovereign nations.
Historically, Native American communities have faced extreme hardships and traumatic events over multiple generations.
credit: Wikimedia Commons
lasting fundamental characteristic of North American tribes is a rich culture whether founded in language, ceremony or traditions.
Families are the fundamental building blocks of AI/AN communities and essential in preserving the culture within tribes.
Equally important, the family unit is essential in building resilience in younger generations.
Culture and community are important factors to consider in the pursuit of improving the health and wellbeing of AI/ANs.
Approximately 71% of the 5. 4 million AI/ANs now live in rural, urban or suburban areas rather than on reservations.
This population has been referred to as a ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂpopulation in crisisÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ due to extreme poverty, poor health, and cultural isolation.
AI/AN youth experience trauma at higher rates than other youth in the U. S. population, with Native youth 2. 5 times more likely to experience trauma compared to their non-Native peers.
An estimated one in ten AI/AN children meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.
Violence, including intentional injuries, homicide, and suicide, accounts for 75 percent of deaths of AI/AN youth ages twelve to twenty.
The high school dropout rate for AI/ANs is 1 4. 6%, or twice the national average.
All of these factors contribute to significant health disparities for Native populations.
Moreover, only five percent of AI/ANs have received graduate or professional degrees, compared to 10 percent for the total population, and only nine percent of American Indians have earned bachelorÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂs degrees compared to 19 percent for the U. S. population.
The future of American Indian communities relies heavily on the health and wellbeing of its youth.
OMH recognizes the negative health impact associated with historical and generational trauma within AI/AN communities, particularly adolescents who continue to struggle with suicide and substance misuse that contribute to low academic achievement.
Studies suggest the incorporation of traditional cultures and engaging youth in Native teachings as an effective public health approach to address resiliency and protective factors .
The AI/AN Health Equity program will support programs that demonstrate effective promising practices that increase resiliency and protective factors within AI/AN youth, as well as build capacity among AI//AN serving healthcare professionals and paraprofessionals about providing trauma-informed, culturally appropriate health care services and interventions to AI/AIN youth.