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The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research

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Indian youth -- United States, Alaska Native youth -- United States, Adulthood -- Psychological aspects, Social service -- Psychological aspects, Social work with Indian youth -- Cultural aspects


This article reports findings from three qualitative studies exploring supports for positive transitions of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth to adulthood. Community-based participatory methods were employed through a research partnership involving a culturally based community agency, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), the National Indian Child Welfare Association, and Portland State University. Studies utilized a Relational Worldview (RWV) framework, where well-being is understood as a balance among the domains of mind, body, spirit, and context. Collectively, findings demonstrate that NAYA employs culturally grounded interventions to overcome the traumatic histories and current oppressive conditions affecting low-income urban AI/AN youth with mental health challenges and to support their well-being and transition to adulthood. In addition, addressing the mental health and well-being of AI/AN youth in culturally appropriate ways involves consideration of all RWV domains. Recommendations for behavioral health practice are to connect AI/AN youth to culturally specific services whenever possible, utilize cultural consultants, and implement holistic and positive approaches to mental health.


This manuscript was published online November 12, 2014 in the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research. The final publication is available at Springer via

© National Council for Behavioral Health 2014



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