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Social Media & the Medical Needs of American Indians

Every race and ethnicity has its own unique set of health concerns. Sure, we are all human and thus susceptible to the same rigors of the world around us, but some of us are more prone to getting specific illnesses or diseases. Something in our unique genetic makeup makes some groups and cultures more at-risk for certain ailments than others. Native Americans are not immune to this reality. wordle1.gif

Some common health concerns that plague them are depression/mental health disorders, alcoholism, diabetes and liver failure. But, just as with any culture or society of people, spreading awareness of and knowledge about these specific illnesses is just as, if not more, important than treating them, because the more people know, the more likely they are to take preventative measures.

So how are they seeking to spread the word? Well, just like everything in this digital age we live in, through social media, mobile apps and websites of course. Below are just some of the notable initiatives seeking to educate and promote overall wellness.

Native Wellness Institute

First up, there is the Native Wellness institute which tackles issues such as stress, alcoholism, self-loathing and loss of identity—problems that are all too common amongst American Indian adults. The group has a traditional website, but also makes use of other media platforms such as Facebook and traditional Twitter, making it easier for their community members to connect and share stories, thoughts and comments.

The group does not bear down into many specific health concerns, but rather seeks to promote all-around well-being.

Native Youth Wellness Intiative

Piggy-backing off of the previous example is the Native Youth Wellness Initiative, which focuses the majority of its work on suicide prevention—an all-too-common problem that plagues American Indians. Their Facebook page wasn’t launched until this summer, but aims to grow into a vibrant online, mobile community that troubled American-Indian youth can turn to in tough times.

Their posts are uplifting, supportive and inspirational and seek, just as the first example did, to promote overall well-being.

NLM Native Voices

Taking it one step further is the NLM Native Voices mobile app available for Apple iPhone and iPad users. Inspired by a National Library of Medicine exhibit that celebrated the American-Indian approach to health and wellness, this app gives users access to several videos that cover various healing methods and medicinal practices utilized throughout the years.

This is vital, important information as it opens a window into how they, as a people, approach medical issues as a whole, which can be helpful as they deal with more modern, complicated health issues. Videos also feature a preview of the exhibit itself for those who want to learn more about that.

Overall, American Indians as a collective face several medical challenges. These new ways of addressing the issues will hopefully help mobilize them to make smarter, more preventative proactive choices about how they live their lives to allow for longer, healthier lives for all.

About the Guest Blogger

Amelia Wood is a blogger and freelance writer for medicalbillingandcoding.org. She loves to
offer advice to the curious job-seeker and is passionate about careers in medicine as well as ways
in which medicine impacts our society, culture, and environment. Please direct any questions or
comments to amelia1612@gmail.com.

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