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NAMI Hosts Meeting on American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health

Recovery for All
March 2009

   NAMI AIAN Listening Session Participants
Participants of the NAMI American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Listening Session February 7, 2009

In February 2009, the NAMI Multicultural Action Center hosted an American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) Mental Health Listening Session. The meeting brought together 20 experts from around the country to Arlington, Virginia, to discuss pertinent mental health issues within this community. Listening session participants represented a variety of backgrounds, tribal affiliations, and expertise as consumers, family members, providers, and researchers.

The listening session was the first activity in the Multicultural Action Center’s effort to update resources and further NAMI support and inclusion of AIAN communities across the country. Objectives of the meeting were to elicit feedback and recommendations for NAMI to successfully engage AIAN communities and to identify existing resources and opportunities to improve mental health education and supports for this population.

The meeting was set in spiritual context with an opening ceremony including a prayer led in both Tipai and English by Ron Christman, Ipai-Tipai Spiritual Leader. Listening session attendees then participated in a structured dialogue around pressing issues in AIAN mental health care, key cultural considerations, and how NAMI can help. Out of this initial conversation, participants identified areas of greatest interest and broke into small workgroups to discuss the following topics in greater detail:

  • Resource Development Breakout Group

     Needs Assessment group
    From left: Valentin Lopez, Daniel  Dickerson,
    D.O., M.P.H,
    Susan W. Casias, MSW, ACSW,
    Candace Fleming, Ph.D., and Karina Forrest)

    Ron Christman and Ron Morton

    Ron Christman (left) with Ron Morton, M.A. (right)
    Needs assessment / resource development
  • Outreach
  • NAMI membership and leadership roles
  • Education programs and cultural adaptation (program modification)

The Multicultural Action Center will soon release the proceedings report of this meeting. The proceedings will include details of the discussion and both short- and long-term recommendations to guide NAMI in our effort to further engage and support AIAN communities. The listening session wrapped up with participants expressing their commitment to continue working with the Multicultural Action Center to implement participants’ recommendations.

One of the ways participants of the listening session will continue to advise NAMI is through the Multicultural Action Center’s newly formed American Indian and Alaska Native Leaders Group.

Contact macenter@nami.org for more information or to join the American Indian and Alaska Native Leaders Group.

Click here  to view NAMI’s current resources on AIAN mental health.

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