Behavioral health services in Urban American Indian Health Programs: Results from six site visits

J Community Psychol. 2023 Sep;51(7):2618-2634. doi: 10.1002/jcop.23035. Epub 2023 Mar 28.


This study explores behavioral health services for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIANs) at six Urban Indian Health Programs (UIHPs). Interviews and focus groups with clinicians and staff inquired about behavioral health treatment available, service needs, client population, and financial and staffing challenges. Resulting site profiles were created based on focused coding and integrative memoing of site visit field notes and respondent transcripts. These six UIHPs evidenced diversity across multiple facets of service delivery even as they were united in their missions to provide accessible and effective behavioral health treatment to urban AIAN clients. Primary challenges to service provision included heterogenous client populations, low insurance coverage, limited provider knowledge, lack of resources, and incorporation of traditional healing. Collaborative research with UIHPs harbors the potential to recognize challenges, identify solutions, and share best practices across this crucial network of health care sites for improving urban AIAN well-being.

Keywords: American Indian health; Indian Health Service; Urban American Indians; barriers to care; behavioral health services; traditional healing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • American Indian or Alaska Native*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Services, Indigenous*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services*