Overcoming Mental Health Battles, One Student at a Time

St. Joseph’s Indian School students stand together to bring awareness to Mental Health Awareness Month!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn about the ways St. Joseph’s Indian School is tackling mental health struggles for our Native American students and pass on your knowledge to others.

St. Joseph’s Indian School is dedicated to providing Native American children with a quality education and support services in an effort they have every opportunity to lead a bright future. One of the most important programs on campus is the mental health and counseling program, which has had a significant impact on the lives of students.

Native American mental health statistics can be alarming. According to the Indian Health Service, Native Americans have the highest rates of substance abuse and suicide of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is also commonly experienced due to historical and intergenerational trauma.

A student takes part in a play therapy session at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

St. Joseph’s Indian School recognizes the importance of providing therapy and support to students. We offer a range of therapy options, including talk therapy, group therapy, art therapy, play therapy and equine therapy. Each of these forms of therapy is designed to help children process and express their emotions in a healthy and constructive way.

Talk therapy allows students to express their feelings to a trained therapist in a safe and supportive environment. Art therapy uses creative expression to help students work through their emotions. Play therapy allows children to explore their feelings through play. Equine therapy involves working with horses to foster emotional and personal growth.

The exterior of the newly constructed Equine Therapy Center at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

The most recent expansion to the mental health program at St. Joseph’s is displayed through the construction of the Equine Therapy Center. This state-of-the-art facility will provide students with a powerful tool to take part in Equine Therapy all year long — not just when the weather cooperates.

“One of the things that really stuck out [to me about Equine Therapy] was how the horse is a sacred animal and it has a special, unique quality that it can take in your struggles and your trauma and release it for you,” said Nicole, a Family Services counselor at St. Joe’s. “With the help of the horses, students can release that — those struggles, those traumas.”

We are grateful for this amazing addition to our campus and excited to see the positive impact Equine Therapy will have on our students for generations to come.

Because, of course, positive impact is what we are striving for. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when people have severe or long-lasting stress, their bodies respond by raising stress hormones and then keep them raised. Some may feel as though they are always on alert. When this goes on for longer periods of time, people may develop other health problems like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

For children, stress can be exemplified in other ways, too, such as an inability to focus on their schoolwork, trouble forming trusting relationships with peers and adults, and overall anxiety.

Therapy at St. Joe’s is a way to work toward present-day healing, while also fostering healthy coping skills to prepare students for future hardships they may endure. No matter who you are, where you are from, hardships find everyone. We want our students armed and prepared to face these times in a positive way.

We’re proud to say students have reported that our mental health programs have helped them develop greater self-esteem, better relationships with others and a more positive outlook on life. Guardians echo similar sentiments — reporting they see positive growth in their children following participation in our mental health programs.

Overall, St. Joseph’s Indian School’s mental health program is making a real difference in the lives of Native American children, thanks to the generosity of our kind supporters. Together, by providing a range of therapy options and support, we are helping students develop the tools and skills they need to thrive toward a brighter future.

To learn more about St. Joseph’s Indian School, visit www.stjo.org today!

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

One thought on “Overcoming Mental Health Battles, One Student at a Time”

  1. To, the owner’s of: St. Joseph’s Indian School & to their Teens Students, who r strugglin‘ w/ their mental health . I hope my message helps u knu’ that u r not alone, in ur battle & struggles.

    Just knu’, Ur important. Ur loved. U matter! U can overcome any battle/struggle that ur feelin’ if, u just put ur mind to it nothing can hold u back only u have the power to over come those struggle we can only help w/ steps but, u have to put it all in perspective & use those steps to overcome those barriers, struggles, obstacles, boundaries or wat ever it may b that is setting u into or that already has set u into a mental health situation but, i knu’ u can, i have faith that u can get free from it if, u set ur mind to do it.

    I am glad that i see this school works & helps students & parents on their child’s Mental Health struggles. When, i was in school, i never had this & i struggled for years since, i was 13yrs old. I’m 29yrs old now & I’m no longer strugglin‘ which, i thank my loving, caring & supportive boyfriend who tells me not to go throu, w/ anything that can do harm to me & don’t let it take control, think of objects as a tool. W/o him, his love & his full support, i would have this chance, to share my story, experiences & that long struggling road i used to follow
    i hope & i pray that each & every student Never, ever gives up, & as in South Korean, the korean‘s say: “Ah-Ja!” which means, “Good Luck!” “Fighting!”, “You Got This!”. I am not Korean, i was adopted into a Hispanic, Puerto Rican & Bolivian mixed family & i self taught myself Hangul, South Korean since, i was 16yrs old, now a days i try to learn Chinese & Japanese. Anyways, i was there & i knu’ wat it is like to b in the same boat, i knu’ it isn’t fun, & the struggle is very real. but, these children, these teens, these kids they r stronger then, their mental health situation is & they r not alone. I hope they all can 1 day overcome their struggles, obstacles, barriers, or watever it is that is holdin‘ ‘em back cuz, they r powerful! Each & every 1 of them has the power w/ in themselves, to say: “Okay! I got this! I can over come & beat this, it will not bring me down! If, she did it i can do it to!”

    i waned to share & tell my story, w/ them, & truly they r not alone in their battles & they can overcome their Mental Health struggls if, they just put their minds to it, think positive & accept the help fully %, not 50% or 30% but, % cuz, they can overcome anything, anything that they sent their minds to. 1 way that i think of is i set goals, for my self i took baby steps w/ things that i used to use for selfhrm & i thought, “okie this is a rake not a sharp object.” Although, it isn’t it a rake, i had to keep myself away from my mental health situation so, by sayin‘ the sharp object is a rake it changes ur mindset of how u look at things & see them different, for a certain time (took me 6month i believe) & then, over time i said it’s not a rake but, a pen then, when, i felt ready i said it was a cutting knife. Yes, u may or may not feel abit hesitant on usin‘ the other then, but, ay it’s okie, it’s a tool not something that can hurt u cuz, u’ll not allow it to after, sayin‘ & imaginin‘ the sharp object was a tool of some sort wat ur eyes may see ur brain & hands may feel & mind processes it as a certain tool.(i hope it made some sense.) Well, I hope, wish & pray for all the best of luck & always remember, there is always, a light at the end of the tunnel. If, i am here today, 11month clean from slfhrm & still standing strong, they can do it, too! I have faith each & every 1 of them, that they all can make it to the end of the tunnel, & say “i kicked Mental Health in the awss & i am finally me, again!” Don’t ever think of givin‘ up! Cuz, Although I’m not there to share my story in person i have faith that they can all make it throu, as well as i have. It really comes along way. Ahja, Arrisoyo! {Translation: “U got this, okay!”). ~ Manami Miku
    {Japanese nickname translated: “Beautiful Sky Beautiful Love”)

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