Press Release

Release Date: May 16, 2023
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Important goals of Mental Health Awareness Month include developing a better understanding of the widespread nature of mental health issues, reducing stigma, and raising awareness about available services.

Mental Health Awareness Month allows those who experience mental illness to know they are not alone, including those who may not be aware of their illness, and that there are programs and services designed with their specific needs in mind.

“Mental Health Awareness Month aids in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health,” Samantha Renfrow, mental health services advisor at the Chickasaw Nation, said. “It’s an opportunity to let everyone know mental health conditions can affect any individual, family or community regardless of age and race. Mental illnesses are common and treatable. There is help available for those in need.”

The Chickasaw Nation regularly offers mental health services to all Chickasaw citizens, other First Americans, and Chickasaw Nation employees. These include the Chickasaw Nation’s Outpatient Therapy, Psychosocial Unit, Medical Family Therapy, Prevention and Behavioral Health Services. Each specializes in care provided to patients.

To address core mental health issues, the Chickasaw Nation created the Chikasha Anokfilli “thinking Chickasaw” initiative. This initiative ensures the Chickasaw Nation promotes available mental health resources year-round, helping improve the overall mental stability of Chickasaw citizens, First Americans and employees of the tribe.

“It is essential to recognize the importance of mental health as a component of our overall health and well-being,” Renfrow said. “It’s just as important as physical health. Chikasha Anokfilli ‘thinking Chickasaw’ is a mental health initiative visioned by (Chickasaw Nation) Governor Bill Anoatubby in 2019. Chikasha Anokfilli was developed and proclaimed to support and promote mental health and wellness.”

Emphasizing prevention and early intervention, the Chikasha Anokfilli initiative seamlessly integrates mental health into the Chickasaw Nation’s overall health services.

Located at, the Chikasha Anokfilli page includes resources from mental health professionals offering support for trauma, grief, suicide awareness and prevention, financial and cultural wellness, and more.

“The webpage is important as it highlights the various programs and services offered to Chickasaw citizens, First Americans, Chickasaw Nation employees and their families,” Renfrow said. “By bringing awareness to these resources, we hope to encourage people to be proactive about their mental wellness and to seek help when they need it.”

The page also features several videos accessible by visitors interested in strengthening their mental wellness. The page links Chickasaw Nation’s many mental health services together, making mental health resources available in one location. Additional outside resources pertaining to mental health are included on the page as well.

Chikasha Anokfilli focuses on the well-being of individuals and provides tools to create strong, resilient minds working to achieve lifelong balance and harmony. Mental health is not limited to only therapy or behavioral health. Experts have identified four pillars of wellness that, when combined, contribute to proper mental health.

“A person’s well-being is multi-faceted and requires all these pillars to function in harmony for a person to function at their best and flourish,” Renfrow said. “Each pillar is influenced or affected by the others.”

These pillars include social/cultural wellness, psychological wellness, spiritual wellness and biological wellness. Each pillar is comprised of multiple factors. By addressing the needs of each, when combined, they create a well-balanced and healthy whole.

The Chickasaw Nation encourages everyone to be proactive about their own mental health, as well as that of family members. Mental health issues affect people of all ages.

“Mental health affects everyone regardless of gender, age, race, etc.,” Renfrow said. “It affects our personal and professional lives. It is important that we recognize and understand the signs look different for everyone, and each individual has a different method of coping.

“When our families, loved ones or caregivers become better educated on recognizing these signs, they can be a source of support and connect individuals to the programs offered by the Chickasaw Nation.”

First Americans are hit hard by mental health illnesses. According to Indian Health Service, First Americans are 2.5 times more likely to experience serious psychological distress than the general population. They have the highest rates of suicide of any minority groups, and substance addiction is a chronic condition.

The Chickasaw Nation is committed to preventing suicide and has developed a Prevention Services Program. The program works to support emotional well-being and mental wellness to reduce suicide risk through education. Participants can learn to recognize the signs of suicide and reduce risk.

Suicide prevention education and training is offered to the public upon request.

In addition to education, the Chickasaw Nation Department of Family Services has led the implementation of “Zero Suicide” throughout the Chickasaw Nation’s health and mental health services system. This ensures standardized and evidence-based suicide prevention and intervention measures are used to improve patient safety.

For First American-based resources, text “NATIVE” to 741741. For emergency help, dial 911.

Those experiencing an emotional crisis, addiction or suicidal ideation can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or use the chat option on

For more information on mental health support or educational resources, visit