Mental Health Trailblazers Podcast S4 Ep2 - Healing Soul Wounds with Dr. Gary Lawrence


Dr. Gary Lawrence, Director of Nursing at Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority, discusses his journey from LPN in rural Oklahoma to a leading mental health advocate for Native American communities. He reflects on 50 years of the SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Program, highlighting challenges like historical trauma and the lack of preventative care. Dr. Lawrence emphasizes cultural practices as healing tools and shares his vision for bridging gaps in behavioral health through culturally relevant interventions


Join us for an enlightening conversation on "Mental Health Trailblazers, Psychiatric Nurses Speak Up!" with your host Indrias Kassaye and the distinguished Dr. Gary Lawrence, Director of Nursing at the Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority. In this second episode of 50 Years – Reflect and Project, celebrating half a century of the SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Program at the American Nurses Association, Dr. Lawrence shares his inspiring journey from being an LPN, detoxing patients in rural Oklahoma, to becoming a pioneering mental health researcher and advocate for Native American communities.

Dr. Lawrence, an alumnus of the Minority Fellowship Program, discusses the evolution of mental health care for Native Americans over the past half-century. He provides a candid look at the historical challenges faced by these communities, from lack of preventative care to the enduring impact of historical trauma. Dr. Lawrence highlights the significance of cultural buffers—practices like storytelling, powwows, and traditional games—as vital tools for healing and resilience.

Discover how Dr. Lawrence's work is bridging gaps in behavioral health care, leveraging culturally relevant interventions, and mentoring the next generation of Native American nurses and researchers. His vision for the future is both hopeful and empowering, emphasizing the importance of continuing the legacy of the Minority Fellowship Program to foster new leaders who will carry forward the work of healing and transformation.

Tune in to hear Dr. Lawrence's reflections on the past, insights into present challenges, and his inspiring vision for the future of mental health care in Native American communities. This is an episode rich with wisdom, hope, and a call to action for all who are passionate about making a difference in underrepresented communities.

Learn more about Dr. Lawrence at You can listen to ‘The Ballad of Ira Hayes’ by Johnny Cash, mentioned by Dr. Lawrence in this conversation, here or read the lyrics at

Bonus: Earn Free CNE Credits! Nurses can earn Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) credits by listening to this episode. An email will be sent to you at a later date with instructions on how to claim CNE credit.

The American Nurses Association is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.