A Mental Health Needs Assessment of Urban American Indian Youth and Families

Amy E. West, Ellen Williams, Eli Suzukovich, Kathlene Strangeman, Douglas Novins

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    52 Scopus citations


    American Indian (AI) youth experience significant mental health disparities. The majority of AI youth live in urban areas, yet urban AI youth are underserved and unstudied. This manuscript describes a qualitative study of community mental health needs in an urban population of AI youth, conducted as part of the planning process for a system of care (SOC). Participants included 107 urban AI youth and families that participated in one of 16 focus groups assessing mental health needs and services. Forty-one percent of participants were youth or young adults. Data were coded and analyzed using qualitative software and then further analyzed and interpreted in partnership with a community research workgroup. Results indicated various community characteristics, mental health and wellness needs, and service system needs relevant to developing a system of care in this community. Key community, cultural, and social processes also emerged, reinforcing the importance of broader system changes to promote a sustainable SOC. These systems/policy changes are reviewed in the context of previous literature proposing necessary systems change to support behavioral health care in AI communities as well as to ensure that SOC implementation is consistent with core values and philosophy across all communities.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)441-453
    Number of pages13
    JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
    Issue number3-4
    StatePublished - Jun 2012


    • American Indian
    • Children and adolescents
    • Mental health
    • Qualitative
    • System of care
    • Urban

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Applied Psychology


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