May is Mental Health Awareness Month
The Suquamish Tribe’s Wellness Center has a slew of events planned for Mental Health Awareness Month through May. All activities are open to the Suquamish Community.
Here’s a round-up of what’s coming up:
Weekday Wellness Activities: Each weekday of the month of May join us in connecting with ourselves and culture to support our wellness. Monday Meditations, Tuesday Traditional Crafts, Wednesday Walk or Jog, and Thursday Canoe Journey Giveaway making.
Events/Presentations: Please join us in food, crafts, fun field day, storytelling, workshops, and training this month. Frybread Tacos, Happy box and aroma therapy making, Seven Grandfather Teaching for Youth, Nutrition and Wellness Talk, and Mental Health First Aid Training for Adults.
Personal Wellness Journey Booklet: Self-guided booklet utilizing evidence-based and cultural-based practices to support holistic wellness (available for pick up at Wellness Center or electronically at request via email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
31 Days of Mental Wellness for Youth: In partnership with the ELC and Family & Friends Center, Wellness will support both agencies in a 31 days of mental wellness activities that can be done both at the centers and at home.
Check out the May Wellness Calendar for more details.
Empowering our teens to create healthy relationships
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity to create awareness about Teen Dating Violence, uplift youth voices, and healthy relationship skill building, and connect young people with resources to help cultivate safety in their relationships. Many Native peoples have the teaching that we are all related, our clans and kinship systems show us how we are connected to each other. Taking care of ourselves and each other is how we practice being good relatives. It starts with cultivating healthy relationships when we are young.
Teen dating violence is an issue in Indian Country that we should understand and actively work to end. It often occurs between the ages of 13-19 but can start as young as 11 years old. 1 in 12 US high school students experience physical dating violence and 1 in 12 experience sexual dating violence. These numbers are very high though this issue is often hidden from others. Many young Native people are suffering in silence. Nobody deserves to be abused. We should be talking about the reality of Teen Dating Violence even if many do not see it. Relationships should be based on respect and care and not power and control.
Native teens deserve to be taught healthy coping and relationship skills like consent and boundaries and prevent Teen Dating Violence. We need support services for survivors of teen dating violence so young people can get the help they need. TDVAM is an opportunity to empower youth to help their peers know where to go or who to talk to if one of their friends confides in them about experiencing dating abuse.
NativeLove and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC) work to raise awareness and create educational tools about Teen Dating Violence to support advocates working in Indian Country. Our goal is to empower teens to demand safety in their relationships and uplift their voices. Help support Native youth by raising awareness about Teen Dating Violence and promoting healthy relationships.
Follow, Like, and Share @NativeLoveIs on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.
Teen Dating Violence, Defined
Teen Dating Violence is a type of relationship violence that occurs between young people. It is defined as when a person uses a pattern of abusive behavior toward their partner to gain power and control over them. Teen Dating violence can include one or more types of abuse, and can look like this:
- Physical abuse—pushes, shakes, slaps, kicks, or spits on you. Holds you down. Throws or breaks your personal belongings (ex. books, cell phone, etc.)
- Emotional abuse—insults you, calls you hurtful names, or embarrasses you in public. Constantly accuses you of cheating. Threatens to hurt you or expose secrets about you.
- Sexual abuse—unwanted kissing or touching, pressures you to have sex or makes you feel guilty for not wanting to have sex or demands that you send them sexually explicit photos or videos.
- Digital abuse—constantly calls, texts, or DMs you to find out where you are or who you’re with, tells you who you can be friends with on social media, or sends mean messages on social media either directly from them or anonymously, tracking you, or sending sexual messages without consent.
- Cultural/Spiritual abuse—makes fun of your religious beliefs or cultural responsibilities to make you feel shame or embarrassment.
- Financial abuse—steals money from you. Controls how you spend your money.
Some signs of dating violence can include when a partner:
- Acts extremely jealous or possessive of you, follows you home or to school, or shows up wherever you are unannounced.
- Is annoyed or upset when you spend time on the phone with other people.
- Interferes or stops you from doing things alone or getting support from others.
- Tells you who you can or cannot be friends with, starts rumors, or threatens to start rumors about you.
- Excessively texts you or sends non-stop DMs.
- Checks your phone for who texts or calls you.
- Tags you in hurtful social media memes, posts, or pictures.
- Criticizes your dreams, goals, family, or friends.
- Tells you what to wear or how to dress.
- Explodes in anger toward you or acts aggressively when they’re upset.
- Kisses, grabs, or touches your body without your permission.
- Forces you to take sexually explicit selfies or videos.
- Threatens to hurt themselves or commit suicide if you don’t do what they want.
If you know a young relative that is being abused:
- Call or text StrongHearts Native Helpline at 1-844-762-8483 or chat at strongheartshelpline.org.
- Create a safe space and tell them you’re concerned about their safety.
- Be a good relative and listen to their story when they’re ready to share.
- Let them know the abuse is not their fault and they do not deserve it.
- Ask how you can help them.
- Offer support and encourage your friend’s strength and courage.
- Share resources available online or locally from your community.
- Learn about dating violence and the signs of relationship abuse.
- Avoid confronting the abusive person hurting your loved one. It can escalate the situation and put your young relative in danger.
If your friend or relative is being abusive, find ways to let them know their behavior is not acceptable. Ignoring their bad behavior condones and supports it.
Helpful Resources and Activities:
- Invite youth and teens to do the #NativeLoveIs TDVAM Instagram/Tiktok Challenge during the month of February by making a zine about what Native Love means to them for a chance to win a prize pack from NativeLove and NIWRC!
- Register for the NIWRC webinar, ‘Ending Teen Dating Violence and Cultivating Healthy Relationships,’ on February 23 at 1-2:30 p.m. MDT.
- Download or order Youth Magazine: Relationships – Healthy Unhealthy, When There is Danger.
- Explore NIWRC’S Special Collection for Native American Teens, developed to provide awareness resources and promote important discussions about teen dating violence.
- If you need to talk, call StrongHearts Native Helpline at 1-844-762-8483 or chat at strongheartshelpline.org.
- Read blogs, Recognizing Healthy Relationships and Dating Violence and How to Support a Loved One in an Abusive Relationship, by StrongHearts Native Helpline.
- Watch NativeLoveIs videos focused on raising awareness and empowering Native youth to speak out about traditional cultural values that honor and respect Native women.
- Explore the NativeLove Online Toolkit for Youth and Toolkit for Educators Coaches and Mentors for resources to raise awareness about teen dating violence.
- View Signs of Teen Dating Violence and Resources from TeenDVMonth.org.
- Explore the 2023 TDVAM Action Guide by Love is Respect.
Healing House Clinic set to open this winter
Tribal members invited to open house slated for Jan 5
The Primary Care team at the Suquamish Tribe’s Healing House health clinic is on track to begin seeing patients by the end of the winter, says Dr. Kristine Ewing, the clinic’s medical director.
In December, the clinic’s new staff began training on the new Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system that will be used by the entire Health Division (Healing House, Wellness Clinic, and Community Health), marking a major milestone towards fully opening the clinic. Having a single EMR across the Tribe’s health entities will help to coordinate and streamline care.
“We are busy orienting nursing and administrative staff, ordering supplies, and learning our new medical record system,” said Ewing. “We need everything to be ready in a good way, so that we can do what we are here to do, which is caring for people.”
Tribal Members and their families are invited to an open house at the clinic on Jan. 5. Tours will begin for Tribal Elders only at 1pm. Tours will continue for everyone else from 2pm to 4pm.
In the meantime, clinic staff are now assembling a list of Tribal Members and their families who are interested in making appointments to establish their medical care at the clinic.
“These first appointments are typically longer visits where your doctor will review your medical history, ask you a lot of detailed questions, and start to develop a plan that meets your medical needs,” said Ewing. “For now, we’re just trying to get a sense of who is interested. Once we’re ready to schedule appointments, we will contact you.”
This might beg the question – what will primary care look like at the Healing House?
“And it’s a good question,” says Ewing. “Primary care is a long-term relationship between a person and a primary care physician. In our Tribal community, this all about establishing a relationship built on trust and respect, the kind of care that comes with honoring culture and taking the time to understand each person’s unique needs.”
Dr. Alex Kraft, who is a Naturopathic Physician and acupuncturist who worked part-time at the Wellness Center over the past eight years, joins Ewing, a Family Physician, on the Healing House Primary Care team.
At the Healing House, these primary care doctors will see patients regularly for checkups, taking time to get to know a patient and their medical history, and provide knowledge and support regarding long-term and chronic health concerns, including nutrition, stress management and mental health.
“Ideally we would see people for all of their primary care and also acute, non-life-threatening needs, but as a primary care clinic we will often refer more urgent concerns to an urgent care clinic or emergency room,” says Ewing.
Getting the final pieces in place
Before visits can begin, however, several remaining big, background pieces are being put into place.
Tribal Council recently approved the eClinicalWorks EMR as the Tribe’s backbone for recordkeeping and secure client communication. Training to use that software, now underway, is about a two-month process.
Tribal Council also approved a contract with Native American-owned DT-Trak Consulting to provide coding, billing, auditing, and credentialing services for health clinic staff. Meanwhile, joining Ewing and Kraft, three new staff members have been hired into key positions at the clinic in recent weeks:
- Receptionist – Elizabeth Napoleon
- Medical Assistant – Michelle Hofmann
- Office Manager – Kris Safford
Stephen Kutz serves as the Healing House Director, overseeing Primary Care, Community Health, and the Wellness Center.
As the Primary Care team continues their work to prepare to see patients, the Tribe’s Community Health nursing staff continue providing vaccinations and boosters, COVID-19 testing, medication and chronic disease management, tobacco cessation, and nutrition counseling, among other services.
WIC services are also now run out of Healing House.
By Jon Anderson
Tribal Council approves new EHR for Healing House
Suquamish Tribal Council, at their regular meeting on Oct 28, approved the new Electronic Health Record (EHR) system that will be used by health and wellness professionals at the Tribe, marking the next major milestone towards fully opening the Healing House health clinic.
At the recommendation of Dr. Kristine Ewing, the clinic’s medical director, Council approved eClinicalWorks to serve as the Tribe’s backbone for recordkeeping and secure client communication to be used by both the Healing House and Wellness Center staffs.
With hiring now underway for a variety of key positions at the new health clinic, Ewing said there will be a 10-12 week training for staff to use the software and integrate it with other providers throughout the region.
Ewing also introduced Dr. Alex Kraft, the naturopathic physician and acupuncturist who has worked part-time at the Wellness Center for the past eight years and is now joining the Healing House team a full-time provider.
COVID-19 Boosters and Flu shots at Healing House clinic
Drive-up flu shots and Omicron Covid-19 boosters are available to Suquamish Tribal Members, Tribal Government staff and PME employees at the Healing House health clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 am to noon.
The bivalent Omicron booster is available to those who have already had two boosters as long as it has been two months since your most recent shot. It is also available to those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Standard pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations are available for children 6 months and older.
Call (360) 394-8469 to schedule.