Exploring Social, Economic and Environmental Determinants of Health
BREAK THE CYCLE OF
HEALTH DISPARITIES FOR
Break the Cycle of Health Disparities for Indigenous Children requires incorporation of the concepts of an intergenerational cycle into the Traditional Tribal Medicine Wheel:
Our goal is to raise awareness and develop strategies to Break the Cycle of Health Disparities for this long-neglected group of vulnerable children.
We invite and encourage young people from these communities to participate in this process and gain confidence to Break the Cycle and become active future leaders in their communities. With this knowledge and confidence, and building on the resiliency of these communities, they can work to assure that generations to come do not suffer the same physical and mental health disorders and engender dignity and pride.
(See adaptation of Tribal Medicine Wheel below.)
Diagram of Medicine Wheel containing four quadrants of well-being conditions
(in clockwise order:
Emotional Wellness shown in black,
Spiritual Wellness shown in white ,
Physical Wellness shown in yellow,
and Mental Wellness shown in red )
accompanied by the stressors that impact achieving or
sustaining these conditions for Native Americans.
Although children from Indigenous communities constitute less than 5% of the US population, they represent approximately 30% of all children in poverty. Along with poverty they suffer from disproportionate health disparities with nutritional disorders and high levels obesity with obesity-related cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, developmental and learning disorders, as well as behavioral disorders as a consequence of transgenerational trauma with high rates of mental health concerns, including substance use, injury, violence, and suicide. They are also at greater risk for exposure to environmental hazards that further compromise their health, and, to compound the situation, they have limited access to quality education and quality health care which perpetuates the Cycle of Health Disparities.