Multiple SBS faculty are serving as co-investigators on “Understanding Resilience and Mental Wellbeing: Southwest Indigenous Nations and the Impact of COVID-19” an interdisciplinary research project funded by the National Institute of Health. Faculty include: Alisse Ali-Joseph, Manley Begay and Karen Jarratt-Snider (Applied Indigenous Studies), and Marianne Nielsen and Juliette Roddy (Criminology and Criminal Justice). Julie Baldwin, Director of the Center for Health Equity Research, is the principal investigator.
SHERC and SBS co-investigators will work with Native Nations in Arizona to determine local and cultural approaches, as well as tribal government policy and action, used to supported mental wellbeing and resilience during the COVID-19 crisis. The project will map tribal leaders’ use of cultural and local assets to protect community mental health and build resilience. The work will involve analyzing policy documents, communications, and actions for intent, direction, and timing.
Additionally, the work will include documenting mental wellbeing and resilience in four specific community groups: first responders, educators, recovery community, and traditional healers. Members of these groups would be asked to participate voluntarily in interviews or talking circles designed to understand individual and collective ways of maintaining mental well-being and staying resilient, and the role of culture and community as assets used by Arizona Indigenous peoples.
COVID-19 has caused significant heartbreak and changes to daily living for Native Nations in Arizona. Indigenous people represent approximately 4.6% of the state’s population, yet account for 19% of COVID-19 deaths. Native Nations in Arizona have exercised their sovereignty to protect their people including denying recreational permits, closing casinos, implementing curfews and stay-at-home orders, ordering weekend lockdowns, and closing essential businesses. This resilience often goes unrecognized by the public and government entities. This work will document the assets and resources used in supporting mental well-being in Native Nations during this pandemic, synthesize lessons learned and support the continuation of strategies effective in sustaining mental health. In addition, Native Nations will receive a summary of this information that could be helpful in requesting future grant funding.
Other investigators in the inter-disciplinary team include: Angelina Castagno, Darold Joseph and Chesleigh Keene (College of Education), and Nicolette Teufel-Shone (Health Services). In addition, the project will include three additional SHERC personnel and multiple graduate and undergraduate student and community-based researchers.