TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation Health Services offers several Behavioral Health programs that contribute to the mental health and physical well-being of tribal citizens.

“CNBH (Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health) offers a wide range of services and programs that focus on mental health, substance misuse, community prevention, therapy, counseling, parenting skills, psychiatry, crisis intervention, and more,” Behavioral Health Senior Director Juli Skinner said. 

A program called Circle of Security Parenting is an evidence-based program for parents and caregivers of children birth to 6 years of age.

The objective is to understand a child’s emotions, support their ability to successfully manage emotions and enhance their self-esteem, said Skinner.

“Native American families have specific needs and challenges, and they deserve to have services that can meet them where they are at, and we are able to accomplish this through Circle of Security Parenting,” she said.

By meeting once a week for nine weeks for 90-minute sessions, training for parents includes:

· Understanding a child’s emotional world by learning to read the emotional needs;

· Supporting a child’s ability to successfully manage emotions;

· Enhancing the development of a child's self esteem; and

· Honor the innate wisdom and desire for a child to be secure.

“I’ve worked with Cherokee children and families for the past 21 years in child welfare and Behavioral Health and have been inspired by the Circle of Security Parenting groups because of the connection parents have made between how they were raised and how they raise their children. We are truly seeing the breaking of cycles of trauma,” Skinner said. 

Other Behavioral Health programs geared toward youth are:

· The HERO Project, which is the CN’s children behavioral health unit to provide counseling and support services for families with children from newborn to 21 years of age who are citizens of a federally recognized tribe; and

· Systems of Care, which is a grant to serve Native American from birth to 21 residing within the CN reservation. Clinical providers and project staff have been trained or will be trained in evidence-based interventions such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Trust-Based Relational Intervention and play therapy.

“Since the development of the HERO project in 2013, Behavioral Health has expanded much-needed services to meet the needs of children and families across our reservation area with the Systems of Care funding,” Skinner said. 

In March, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed into law the Public Health and Wellness Fund Act which directs 7% of unrestricted, third party revenues to be used for substance abuse treatment facilities and wellness centers – yielding $9 to $12 million for these projects annually, including programs under Behavioral Health, according to a CN Facebook post.

“Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Health Services is dedicated to strengthening children, youth, and families by providing effective mental health treatment services, interventions, support and overall best practices to help aid in overcoming trauma and addressing mental health, emotional, behavioral and substance use issues,” states the post.

For information, call 539-234-3500.