Increasing culturally responsive care and mental health equity with indigenous community mental health workers

Psychol Serv. 2021 Feb;18(1):84-92. doi: 10.1037/ser0000358. Epub 2019 May 2.


There are 600 diverse American Indian/Alaska Native communities that represent strong and resilient nations throughout Indian Country. However, a history of genocidal practices, cultural assaults, and continuing oppression contribute to high rates of mental health and substance use disorders. Underresourced mental health care and numerous barriers to services maintain these disparities. Indigenous community mental health workers hold local understandings of history, culture, and traditional views of health and wellness and may reduce barriers to care while promoting tribal health and economic self-determination and sovereignty. The combination of Native community mental health workers alongside a growing workforce of Indigenous mental health professionals may create an ideal system in which tribal communities are empowered to restore balance and overall wellness, aligning with Native worldviews and healing traditions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Alaska Natives*
  • Health Equity*
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Mental Health
  • Substance-Related Disorders*