On Tuesday June 29, 2021, the NIMH Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity hosted a webinar titled “Strength in the Face of Challenge: Youth Suicide Prevention Research Among the White Mountain Apache and the Navajo Nation in the time of COVID-19“. The presenters included a number of professionals from the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, Dr. Alison Barlow, Dr. Mary Cwik, Mitchell Garcia, Rose Suttle, Dr. Emily Haroz, Dr. Jerreed Ivanich, and Dr. Victoria O’Keefe.
The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indians embeds tribal sovereignty within education to promote health in indigenous communities. In the ways that native nations have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, the center provides support to mitigate disease contraction as well as alleviate issues that contribute to mental health concerns. Situations such as food insecurity, contaminated water, and poor housing conditions have been shown to already have a negative impact amongst native youth populations. When coupled with the severity of the pandemic, this leads to an uptake in suicide attempts.
The presenters spoke about the tri-protect model that has helped native nations immensely through diagnostic testing for COVID, contact tracing, and support and isolation. Community mental health workers have also been employed to identify youth at risk of suicide, link them to care, thus providing prevention and treatment options. Similar to this an Elders Curriculum has also been put into place, which allows tribal elders to collaborate with community mental health workers. The curriculum calls elders to facilitate interventions based on Apache knowledge through storytelling that promotes strength.
Overall the purpose of this partnership is to administer culturally tailored approach to suicide prevention.
This overview was written by one of our Global Mental Health Undergraduate Summer Interns. Throughout the summer, our interns will continue to share overviews of various lectures and webinars they attend.
To view upcoming webinars in this series, please visit the NIMH Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity.