A Commemoration of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Jul 29, 2014
By: The Indian Health Service (IHS)

The Indian Health Service (IHS), in partnership with tribes and tribal consortia, provides essential Mental Health services for 2 million American Indian and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). Over half of the Mental Health budget is transferred to Tribal governments and Tribal organizations through funding contracts and compacts. These funds allow Tribal governments and Tribal organizations to design, manage and to ensure that the delivery of services is tailored to meet the Medical and Mental Health needs of AI/AN individuals and families.

More than 400,000 Encounters with Youth through the Methamphetamine & Suicide Prevention Initiative

Access to services and to culturally appropriate care is especially difficult for AI/AN populations, and is greatly complicated by provider shortages, lack of resources for self-care, cultural and language barriers, and others. The IHS continually strives to overcome these barriers through health professional recruitment and retention strategies, policy guidance and development, provision of technical and professional consultation to field staff and partner organizations, and other supports and interventions.

In June 2009, IHS implemented the Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI). The MSPI is a demonstration project for IHS, Tribal, and Urban Indian health programs. The focus is to increase access to methamphetamine and suicide prevention services, improve the quality of behavioral health services associated with methamphetamine use and suicide prevention, promote the development of new and promising services that are culturally and community relevant, and demonstrate efficacy and impact.

In the first year of the MSPI, 94% of the implemented programs reported addressing suicide prevention and this has consistently been the focus of their MSPI activities. In addition, the number of individuals trained in suicide crisis response increased from 50% in year 1 to 61% in year 4. In year 4 of implementation, the MSPI resulted in more than 7,500 individuals entering treatment for methamphetamine abuse and conducted over 15,000 substance abuse and mental health encounters via tele-health. Overall, more than 10,000 professionals and community members were trained in suicide crisis response and more than 400,000 encounters with youth were provided as part of evidence-based and practice-based prevention activities. 

The MSPI demonstration project is one of many ways IHS is addressing the mental health and substance abuse public health concerns in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. To learn more about IHS and its programs please visit: www.ihs.gov .

The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.1 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who are members of federally recognized tribes.

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