Mental illness is widespread across the country, with 1 in 5 Americans experiencing it each year. And as a new research brief from the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University illustrates, it’s a particular problem among Native Americans. American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) have disproportionately high rates of depression, suicide, and psychological distress.Some key findings:

  • AI/AN individuals are 2.5 times more likely to have experienced severe psychological distress at some point in the last month compared to U.S. Whites.
  • The suicide rate for the AI/AN population is 1.7 times the general U.S. population.
  • The community faces a number of barriers to accessing mental health services, including distance to providers, lack of financial resources, and stigma surrounding treatment.

The brief’s author, Margaret Rose, explores how integrating native cultures and communities can improve outcomes. That includes better aligning mental health services with community-specific traditions and beliefs. You can read the full brief here.