“We continue to address the impacts of alcohol and other drugs, youth suicides, domestic violence and the list continues. However, now is the time to address the source of these symptoms—historical and intergenerational trauma.” —Tribal leader, White House Tribal Nations Conference, 2014
The story of American Indians and Alaska Natives is one of resiliency and survival. But high rates of interpersonal violence, depressive symptoms, substance misuse (alcohol and illicit drugs), and suicide among members of tribal communities offer a small glimpse into how social injustices- endured over the course of multiple generations- threaten tribal communities.
The National Tribal Behavioral Health Agenda (TBHA) provides a blueprint to address current behavioral health issues and affect change for future generations. The TBHA, developed through the collaboration of tribal leaders and representatives, SAMHSA, Indian Health Service, and the National Indian Health Board, focuses on:
- Healing from historical and intergenerational trauma
- Facilitating a socio-ecological approach for improving behavioral health
- Increasing prevention and recovery supports
- Improving behavioral health systems and services
- Raising awareness of behavioral health conditions related to tribal communities
- Recognizing and supporting integration of cultural wisdom and traditional practices into behavioral health programs and services
- Strategies to address and reduce behavioral health issues
There has never been a more important time to prioritize the behavioral health of tribal communities. Development of the TBHA is not an end but a continuing commitment to work with tribes to improve behavioral health. It is now up to individuals, families, communities, tribal and federal government entities, and other collaborators to advance the established priorities and strategies. Collaboration is the power of the TBHA!