Health problems amongst American Indians are disproportionately higher than the rest of the general population. This disparity contributes to inhibiting economic, educational, and social development. The statistics are shocking. Many American Indians suffer and ultimately die from preventable diseases at alarmingly higher rates. Mental health is no different, with many American Indians disproportionately burdened by substance abuse and mental health issues.
The statistics illustrate the extent of the problem.
American Indians are:
- 640% more likely to die from tuberculosis;
- 650% more likely to die from cirrhosis;
- 420% more likely to die from diabetes;
- 770% more likely to die from alcoholism;
- 52% more likely to die from pneumonia or influenza; and
- 70% more likely to commit suicide
Access to quality health care remains one of America’s greatest challenges. Access to even basic health care is particularly acute amongst American Indian communities who face the complex health problems described above. Contributing to and exacerbating this pathology is the fact that many American Indians lack basic transportation and economic resources and can be subject to racial and ethnic bias in the health care system. As a result, the health care that they receive can be insufficient and at times culturally insensitive.