When COVID-19 hit, it devastated Tribal communities. Based on past federal policies, American Indians and Alaska Natives suffer various health and socioeconomic disparities that make them not only more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, but also more susceptible to negative outcomes once infected. Much attention has focused on COVID-19 infection rates and related deaths in Indian country. However, the pandemic’s reach has gone beyond physical impacts on the body. COVID-19 has also affected the mental health of Tribal members and their access to mental health services. This Article dives into the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the mental health and general well-being of Tribal communities. A brief history of federal and Tribal relations is provided, followed by a summary of the current state of mental health in Indian country. The impacts of COVID-19 on Tribal communities is discussed as well as the rise of telehealth to provide much needed mental health services during the pandemic. The article concludes by providing recommendations to continue the progress made to fill the historic gap in mental health services in Indian country post-pandemic.
rizona State Law Journal Blog (2020)