Many Disabled American Indians Living in the West Lack Mental, Other Health Services, Report Finds
Mental health services and community-based services, such as personal care attendants, are unavailable to many American Indians in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, according to report recently released by the Native American Disability Law Center, Indian Country Today reports.
The report is based on a needs assessment of American Indians living in the Four Corners region and includes a survey of 2,000 American Indians with disabilities and input from focus groups conducted in the Navajo Nation and Hopi reservation.
The survey found that more than 70% of respondents with mental illnesses said they received "the run around" from social or government agencies when seeking assistance. The same percentage of mentally ill American Indians also said they were unaware of services available to them or how to apply. Fifty-nine percent reported a lack of food to meet their basic needs, and 60% said they had been discriminated against for being mentally ill (Indian Country Today, 3/10).
Therese Yanan, director of the law center, said, "There's a sort of discrimination that's not really malice-based, but more of a lack of awareness." She added, "I haven't heard of anywhere else in the country where you have a person living in one state and getting services in another state from a program that's run by a tribe but funded by the federal government. You have this sort of bureaucratic quagmire, and the delivery system for resources to Native Americans with disabilities can be overwhelming" (Landry, Farmington Daily Times, 3/10).