Native American Mental Health Services

St. Joseph’s Indian School’s counseling philosophy is to support students through a relationship-based holistic approach to become strong, self-determined, resourceful and determined.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death (behind unintentional injuries) for Indian youth ages 15-24 residing in Indian Health Services service areas and the suicide death rate for this cohort is four times higher than the national average.
Findings also showed that American Indian and Alaskan Native young people ages 15-34 comprised 64% of suicides in Indian country.*
*Indian Health Services Trends in Indian Health Report (2014)

Every student who attends St. Joseph’s Indian School receives comprehensive health services. As important as immunizations and regular check-ups are, it’s the mental health services we provide our Native American youth that are perhaps more crucial and life-changing … even life-saving.

The recent rash of suicides that swept across South Dakota reservations was highly publicized, with feature stories appearing in national media like the New York Times and Huffington Post. Countless articles outlined the problem … and St. Joseph’s seeks to be part of the solution.

In addition to seeing that the Lakota students are healthy physically, our master's level Family Service Counselors work to meet our Native American students’ mental health needs. Each student has a counselor who works with the student and his or her family. We provide individual counseling, group counseling, play therapy, art therapy and drug & alcohol counseling.

Groups that are offered include:

  • Son's of Tradition
  • Daughter's of Tradition
  • stress management
  • Transition group
  • Healing/Grief group
  • Brothers lunch group
  • siblings group
  • Freshman success
  • Real friendships
  • Telling vs. Tattling
  • 4th grade skills
  • Friendship
  • Social skills
  • New student
  • Empower Me

Our counseling services team helps children/students — and their families — deal with everything from homesickness and growing pains to drug addiction and everything in between. To help facilitate more holistic healing, families are included in their child’s counseling service plan through regular meetings, both in person and over the phone.

Our Native American mental health staff work individually with each student.
Our staff provides services for our Native American students to ensure their mental health needs are met.

A major program that seeks to combat Native American mental health issues at St. Joseph’s is our mentor program. In this program, at-risk students are matched with an adult staff member who serves as that child’s mentor — supporting and encouraging him or her in their daily life.

Alcoholism and drug abuse have, in some way, touched every child entrusted to us. These precious children have lost loved ones to suicide and have witnessed violence in their communities and even in their homes. Substance abuse groups & mental health services are available to rebuild foundations & empower change.

Through it all, St. Joseph’s team of counselors and support staff have provided the resources — and love — necessary to help them heal and move forward.

Thank you for helping us provide life-saving treatment for the Lakota (Sioux) Native American children in our care.

Learn more about our other Native American Youth Programs.