Mental Illness in Native Americans Essay

Mental Illness in Native Americans Essay

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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 n...


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Saisan, Joanna, Melinda Smith, and Jeanne Segal. "Substance Abuse and Mental Health." Help Guide. N.p., Feb. 2014. Web. 7 Apr. 2014. .
Salgado Jr., Ernie C. "Native American Indian Killers." The Indian Reporter. N.p., July 2009. Web. 6 Apr. 2014. .
Skye, Warren, Robert Schore, and Rachel Levenson. "Native Americans." NKI Center of Excellence in Culturally Competent Mental Health. N.p., 2009. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. .
Szalavitz, Maia. "How Child Abuse Primes the Brain for Future Mental Illness." Time. N.p., 15 Feb. 2012. Web. 7 Apr. 2014. .

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