xaʔtu̓s (First Face) for Mental Health

What is xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health? 

xaʔtu̓s (pronounced hah-toos) is the Salish word for First Face. It describes an individual who steps forward in a situational leadership role. xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health is a mental health and wellness training designed with and for Tribal communities. No special experience in mental health is necessary. With xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health, the individual steps forward to help a person in a crisis or need. 


Anyone can serve as a First Face--including you! There are many ways to serve as a First Face. These can range from just learning about mental health to actually completing advanced education to be a healthcare provider.

The xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health training program will teach neighbors, teachers, family members, peers, and community members different ways to be that First Face who steps forward to help a teenager or adult experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge.

Training Goals

Destigmatize: We seek to reduce the stigma about mental health in our Tribal communities

Understanding: We seek to improve our knowledge about the core mental health issues identified by our working group as pertinent to Tribal communities

Tools: We seek to provide Tribal communities with culturally appropriate tools for responding to mental health crises

Confidence: We seek to boost confidence in responding to mental health crises in Tribal communities 

There are a few things we would like you to know about our program: 

First and most importantly, we built xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health with and for Tribal communities. 

Second, we built xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health with special consideration for the need for self-care, especially in Tribal communities. 

Third, we built xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health, focusing on Tribal teens.

xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health focuses on the five primary mental health and wellness issues that our Tribal contributors have agreed are the most threatening to Tribal people:   
  • Trauma
  • Addiction
  • Depression & Anxiety
  • Self-Harm
  • Violence 

Our training uses live presentations, animations, interactive activities, and expert interviews to help you learn how to help anyone who is having a mental health crisis. Our unique tool, Healing Hands, includes five steps to providing help. Our animated videos allow learners to practice these steps for different situations. What sets our training apart is its development and in-depth collaboration with Tribal leaders and experts to ensure fidelity to Tribal practices to support the mind, body, and spirit.

Training Sneak Peek

In the Animated Life Story, Meet Nick, hear about Nick’s story of addiction, recovery, and return to use. See how his auntie is the First Face to help. 

Animated Life Stories

To see more animated life stories see our library.

Ask An Expert 

Ms. Donell Barlow, a research assistant of the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations’ CIRCLE NARCH program and an enrolled member of the Ottawa Tribe/Otter clan and Yurok on her maternal side, talks with Dr. Martina Whelshula about intergenerational trauma. Dr. Whelshula is a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, former director of the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations, and a principal investigator for the CIRCLE NARCH research program that developed xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health.  

To see more Ask An Expert videos see our library.