Rosen, Cortez Masto Call for Additional Federal Resources to Address Mental Health Epidemic in Tribal Communities

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, highlighting the urgent need to improve Tribal access to federally supported mental health services and incorporate culturally appropriate practices in these services. 

“As you know, Tribal communities have among the highest rates of suicide and mental health needs in Nevada and across the nation, yet access to robust and culturally competent care for Tribes lags behind other communities in the United States,” wrote the senators. “Tragically, according to the Nevada Indian Commission, one of Nevada’s Tribal nations recently experienced a suicide cluster that left twenty-one children without a parent.”

“The unique nature of tribal communities and their culture, history, generational trauma, and geographic location, compounded with traditional risk factors for mental health, require a holistic and respectful approach to mental health care that includes culturally appropriate considerations,” the senators’ letter continued. “It is imperative that we do everything we can to provide support that serves tribal needs and respects tribal culture. One life lost to suicide is too many, and the high rate in tribal communities must be treated like the crisis it is. Culturally appropriate mental health services are a key factor in reducing suicide rates.”

“Like so many Native American communities, our Tribal Nations in Nevada have been irreparably scarred by suicide,” said Stacey Montooth, Executive Director of the Nevada Indian Commission. “For the first people of this land, intergenerational trauma coupled with daily hardships of reservation life, especially for our young people, have created unbearable situations for which taking one’s life is commonplace. We know that Indigenous people have disproportionately higher rates of mental health problems such as suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder, violence and substance use disorders, but with innovative approaches that are culturally competent we can address this. The Nevada Indian Commission is grateful for the senators’ willingness to address this complex issue and bring much-needed attention to the dire need for access to behavioral health resources for our people, the Waší·šiw, Numu, Nuwu, Newe, and Pipa Aha Macav.”

“Tribal communities across Nevada have felt the impact of this mental health crisis, and it’s clear we need new solutions and resources,” said Angie Wilson, Director of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tribal Health Center. “I appreciate the senators’ leadership and efforts to work with tribes as we work to solve this crisis.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.