Gila River Royalty Hosts Presentations for Mental Health Awareness Month

Kyle Knox

Gila River Indian News


Jr. Miss Gila River Sineca Jackson will host presentations on multiple topics throughout May in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. The first presentation on May 13 focused on Masculinity and Femininity.  Miss Gila River Alyse Marietta served as the co-host of the presentation alongside Jackson. 


“Because these conversations are not easy to talk about, this event was a big accomplishment for me,” said Jackson. “These kinds of topics aren’t regularly talked about in the Community.” 


The presentation allowed participants to discuss traditional and modern views of gender roles and the expectations that youth may feel have been placed on them by the media and peers. Participants also had a chance to discuss where they first observed gender roles in their lives and how they grew to accept those expectations or to challenge them through life experiences. 


Miss Gila River Alyse Marietta said: “The goal of this event was to emphasize that, yes, gender roles are a part of our culture and community, but we shouldn’t feel the need to fit anyone else’s expectations as long as we’re doing our best and giving back to our Community with a happy heart.”


In one example, a male participant described discovering a love for cooking and shared how he faced scrutiny growing up. In the end, the individual shared that he came to understand that everyone is different. Furthermore, as long as they are happy and helping their family, they remain confident as a person despite differing views.  


Breaking down those expectations was a goal for Jackson, who said, “It made me really happy to talk about how we shouldn’t let the expectations of what a man or woman ‘should be’ affect one’s mental health.”


For their first presentation, both Miss and Jr. Miss Gila River were pleased to provide a safe space for everyone to share insights into their own experiences. Many cited social media as a typical driver for informing youth how men and women should act and look. Social media expectations seem to fuel many pressures that youth encounter, according to the participants. 


Due to the potentially serious nature of the conversations, Behavioral Health professionals from GRHC Behavioral Health Services were also in attendance. Because this topic can be challenging for some, they were present for anyone who felt they might need additional support. 


This month, there will be two more presentations. A session on “Virtual Fatigue,” is set for May 20, and a Mental Health Roundtable Discussion with tribal royalty is scheduled for Thursday, May 27. 


For more information about the presentations, you can email Gila River royalty and