‘Say Yes’ Campaign Addressing Mental Illness in Indigenous Youth

July 24, 2023

Monday, July 17th 2023, 6:36 pm

By: Mike Glover

July is minority mental health month, and bringing awareness to the challenges is the first step in getting help for the people struggling with it.

“A lot of people don’t recognize when they are going through difficulties with their mental health,” said Mary Hammer, Public Health Coordinator for The Association of American Indian Physicians.

It is a challenge to diagnose the problem because for many minority families the problems are generational.

“It’s hard even as adults to recognize when our children are dealing with mental health issues, just because we don’t know when we are,” said Hammer.

Problems passed down from generation to generation.

“If you’ve ever been around a bunch of native people, like we’ll kind of joke about things that hurt, or things that are painful to us mentally or just our feeling or anything like that, that is a way that we kind of cope,” said Hammer.

The challenge for many families is deciding what issues fall under mental health and what classifies just being a teenager.

“It’s kind of case by case when it comes to situations like that. I mean we all think that we know our kids, we all think that we know them through and through, we’ll be able to find the differences, we’ll be able to notice,” said Hammer.

Recognizing the signs is not always easy, so, The Association of American Indian Physicians has launched the “Say Yes” campaign.

“It is to find the things that they love, like their culture, their heritage, their ways, whether it be dancing, beading and weaving,” said Hammer.

The campaign is designed to give kids pride in their Indian heritage, thus empowering them to say no to the unhealthy things.

“That way whenever peer pressure comes along, they’re more able to say no thank you, that’s not what I want, that’s not a part of like my ways,” said Hammer.

For more information about the “Say Yes” initiative visit,

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