May 6, 2024

Virtual Talking Circles: Culturally Appropriate Peer Support


Virtual Talking Circles: Culturally Appropriate Peer Support

Many older or disabled individuals struggle with social isolation.

Veterans groups, and in particular Native American veterans, often suffer in silence with mental health issues. Televeda has created a support circle for users to share their stories and life experiences while receiving peer support. This support isn't professional advice but an opportunity for each speaker to be heard and respected through talking circles.

What Are Virtual Talking Circles?

Digital social connections are increasingly bringing together individuals who would otherwise remain isolated.

Virtual senior centers and other online programs enable people to find meaningful connections. People can share their stories and get the peer support they need in a culturally competent environment. This might include integrating each individual's health beliefs and healing practices.

Televeda has developed Virtual Talking Circles that follow trauma-informed design and are human-centered. These culturally competent solutions create safe spaces for individuals to discuss their lived experiences with peers. The groups can include work with Veterans Affairs mentors, public health researchers, trauma counselors, and Tribal community leaders.

Joining a circle can help individuals dealing with divorce, depression, grief, or suicidal thoughts build relationships with others going through the same thing. There is power in connection. These connections can reduce isolation and lead to healing.

Televeda offers several virtual events and classes to help individuals stay connected and improve their lives.

Why Did We Build It?

While Zoom is an option for helping individuals communicate online, our Virtual Talking Circles takes this concept further while respecting traditions. We provide a web application that is usable on any device and ensures deliverability in a low-tech environment on the Reservation. We offer high standards of care with privacy and data while connecting individuals to the peer support they need.

Infrastructure problems and physical barriers to adequate social engagement led us to create more opportunities for in-person support groups. Our Virtual Talking Circles platform provides accessible access to care, provides safe spaces, and shares specific resources for individualized care.

Virtual Talking Circles is part of the solution in our Hero's Story Project initiative. Hero's Story provides a community-based platform that offers culturally appropriate resources and interventions. This project works closely with members of tribal nations, including the Lakota, O'odham, and Navajo.

Televeda Co-founder Shruti describes Televeda's work and mission. (Summarized) "Our mission is to help alleviate social isolation and loneliness amongst underserved populations. We have two ways of achieving this...we work on helping alleviate suicidal deaths amongst Native American veterans by providing them access to a culturally relevant, evidence based behavioral health intervention. Which is a combination of evidence based western medicine and Talking Circles or story telling interventions which are culturally specific to our Native American veterans."

How Does It Work?

Virtual Talking Circles follows trauma-informed design. This culturally competent and human-centered approach works with public health researchers, trauma counselors, clinicians, VA mentors, and Tribal community leaders. The following are examples of what can be included in a talking circle:

  • Prayer music
  • Circular layout
  • Appropriate directionality
  • Clanship-kinship cards
  • Circle prompts
  • Passing the token
  • Access to crisis resources

What Are the Benefits?

There are several benefits when individuals connect on a virtual platform with a trauma-informed design.

  • Travel Is unnecessary
  • Virtual platforms provide options for camera-shy participants
  • Participants can remain safe in their own environments
  • Circles provide culturally competent environments
  • Caregivers and family can remain with participants
  • Virtual circles overcome basic Zoom limitations

Contact Televeda To Learn More

Support circles offer culturally competent, safe spaces for users to share their experiences, feelings, and state of mind with others in the group. Circles are designed to embrace Native American practices while working together to reduce loneliness and suicide rates. While this is not professional advice, attendees receive respect and a chance to connect with other individuals.

Televeda offers Virtual Talking Circles geared toward several specific groups that can provide peer support for each individual's needs. These include male and female veterans, AI/AN individuals, and LGBTQ2S+ populations. The format meets people where they're at and provides a trauma-informed design.

Whether you're an organization, a potential facilitator, or an individual looking for a connection, contact Televeda today for more information.

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