Adolescence is a powerful time when individuals are discovering their identities. A recent study found that Indigenous youth were likely to experience more adverse childhood events in adolescence compared to youth of other races.
Although many of us may not be able to affect the number of risk factors in a youth’s life, we can play a significant role in strengthening protective factors. Research shows that increasing protective factors has more of an impact among Indigenous youth than decreasing risk factors.
Bringing awareness about mental wellbeing to the youth of tribal communities and Indigenous peoples does two things, according to Mental Health First Aid National Trainer Melita “Chepa” Rank, DSW, LCSW, QMHP: It reduces stigma and fosters wellness. Youth Mental Health First Aid (Youth MHFA) for Tribal Communities and Indigenous Peoples, a community-specific course offered by National Council for Mental Wellbeing, is the pathway to achieve both goals.
“The Youth MHFA curriculum empowers people to help one another as relatives,” said Rank, who assisted in developing the updated course. “The program affords people the ability to learn skills in how to respond when our relatives/communities need support. We must create the space to talk about our holistic health, especially mental health in youth, and begin to change the stories and reduce the stigmas that surround mental health.”
And support is needed. The Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health (Colorado School of Public Health) reports that 60% of Indigenous youth have experienced or are experiencing severe mental distress.
Youth MHFA for Tribal Communities and Indigenous Peoples is an evidence-based course that teaches adults how to recognize and respond to Indigenous adolescents (age 12 to 18) who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. This course is tailored for people who work with Indigenous adolescents, family members, friends and others who are connected to tribal communities and Indigenous youth.
“This course honors our historical journey(s) and cultural practices as Indigenous individuals,” said Rank. “The phenomenal team I worked with to update the course provided invaluable input that resulted in a curriculum that aligns with this community’s unique history, challenges, resiliency and culture.”
Learn how to get certified in Youth MHFA for Tribal Communities for Indigenous Peoples. #BeTheDifference by leading the conversation about how mental wellness and culture impact each other.