PROTECTING OUR MENTAL HEALTH
are not alone.”
Native people have a legacy of military service. In some families, service spans generations as far back as the Revolutionary War. We join to defend our home and the land, and to create good lives. For many of us, service is a source of honor and pride.
‘Life is transformation’
U.S. Navy veteran Stephanie Stoops, a member of the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, has survived depression and the loss of her son, a veteran who died by suicide. Stephanie shared her story with artist Roger Fernandes, from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, who used art to relate her experiences to traditional stories. “Ask for help,” Roger says, “and know that you will transform.”
Getting mental-health support is a sign of our strength.
Some veterans also experience mental health issues and thoughts about suicide. Culturally appropriate support is available for Native vets in Washington — whether that means talking with an elder, starting mental-health counseling online or in-person, or learning about housing options. Many find healing in cultural traditions, like making art.
Suicidal thoughts can happen to anyone, including those who’ve served. It’s a sign of strength to get the support you need – for yourself or your relatives.
Beading is healing
Coeur d’Alene Tribe member and veteran Mark Ramos does beadwork to support his mental health. Photographer Jeff Ferguson, a member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, created this video about Mark’s connection to culture and the piece he created to honor his fellow veterans.
Culture and connection, along with counseling, are healing.
To support your mental health, you can:
Other ways to ask for help.
Support vets by checking in and joining in.
Veterans can find it hard to feel a sense of belonging back home. Checking in with them (in person, by text, by phone) can help them feel less isolated. So can organizing and joining them in activities. Other ways to help:
Learn the signs of suicide and how to help.
You can’t always tell when people are thinking about suicide. But most people show some sign. Learn the warning signs to watch for in others or yourself, so you can get support from people trained to help.
Ask, listen, and connect people with support.
When a friend or family member is struggling, we can help them get the help they need.