Many people believe that Native Americans are a disadvantaged group of individuals in many ways. Culturally, in that many of the cultures of the various tribes across the Americas were taken from them by Europeans and their descendants. Socially, in that they are unlike other minorities in the United States because of their extra-constitutional status; and even medically, stemming from the general belief that Natives are at a higher risk for disease than other ethnicities due to tobacco and alcohol use, especially when used together (Falk, Hiller-Sturmhöfel, & Yi, 2006).
Mental illness is an addition to all of the previously listed perceived disadvantages of Native Americans by those of other ethnicities. Many believe that Native Americans are at a higher risk for mental illness than those of European descent. Many also believe that Native Americans have more people suffer from depression than their white counterparts (Stark & Wilkins, American Indian Politics and the American Political System, 2011). There have been studies conducted to test whether or not this is the case, with mixed results. Some studies say that Natives are at a higher risk and others say they are not. This discrepancy makes the answer unclear. If Natives are actually at a higher risk for and have more people suffering from depression than individuals of European descent, the question to ask is, “why?” Several factors play into depression and other mental illness, including biology, social standing, history, family, and any preexisting/comorbid diseases that could contribute to or cause depression.
It is not common knowledge, but people can be genetically predisposed to develop depression during their lives. Depression runs in families. It can be passed d...
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Miriam, L. (1928). The Problem of Indian Administration. Maryland, MD: The Lord Baltimore Press. Retrieved from Alaskool.
Rhoades-Kerswill, S. (2013, November 24). American Indian Studies. Retrieved from Online Classroom: https://oc.okstate.edu/d2l/le/content/906677/Home
Samaan, R. A. (2000). The Influences of Race, Ethnicity, and Poverty on the Mental Health of Children. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 100-110.
Stark, H. K., & Wilkins, D. E. (2011). American Indian Politics and the American Political System. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Walker, C. A. (2001). Native illness meanings: Depression and suicide. Dissertation Abstracts International, 1.
Yellow Horse Brave Heart, M., & DeBruyn, L. M. (2013). THE AMERICAN INDIAN HOLOCAUST: HEALING HISTORICAL UNRESOLVED GRIEF. The American Indian Holocaust, 63.
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