Prior to considering the prevalence of mental disorders among Indians and Natives, it is important to note that few epidemiological studies have been completed with this population. Moreover, those available to use frequently suffer from methodological problems such as flawed sampling methods, outdated samples, and limited cultural sensitivity (Manson et al., 1997). However, in the interest of clues regarding which psychological problems might be common and deserving of attention in the assessment/diagnostic phase, the current state of knowledge will be presented.
Indian and Native youth and adults are at high risk for or have a high prevalence of the following: mental retardation, speech impediments, learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, psychoactive substance abuse and dependence, depression, simple phobias, social phobias, separation anxiety, overanxious disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder (Manson et al., 1997; Manson & Brenneman, 1995; Manson, Walker, & Kivlahan, 1987). In addition, American Indian and Alaska Native youth experience high rates of Fetal Alcohol Effects or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, otitis media, which can contribute to language and speech delays (McShane, 1982), suicide (Blum, Harmon, Harris, Bergeisen, & Resnick, 1992), and child abuse and neglect (Manson et al., 1997).
It is important to mention the high rates of traumatic stress experienced by Indian/Natives as abuse victims and witnesses of the abuse of others, for they are related to the development of psychiatric symptomatology. As an example, Piasecki et al. (1989) found significantly higher rates of development disorders, conduct disorders, drug use disorders, depressive disorders, and anxiety disorders in abused Indian and Native youth than those without similar histories.
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