Report: Mental health care gaps in Indian Country

By MATTHEW BROWN | September 30, 2011 | 5:55 PM EDT

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A new U.S. government report highlights serious gaps in mental health care for many American Indians and Alaska Natives, groups that suffer from problems including a teenage suicide rate more than twice the national average.

One in five hospitals and clinics in Indian Country provide no mental health services. Only half provide drug therapy treatments, and treatment often is handled by non-licensed staff at dozens of facilities.

That's from the report by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. It was released Friday by Montana U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat who in 2008 requested an investigation into health care problems on reservations.

Tribal leaders on Montana's Fort Peck Reservation last year declared a crisis after a rash of suicides at a middle school.