American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) that live in urban areas present with a unique morbidity and mortality profile, and they endure a disproportionate rate of behavioral health issues. The most significant mental health concerns facing urban AI/ANs include a high prevalence of depression, substance use disorders, suicide, anxiety, and PTSD. Suicide is the second leading cause of death of urban Indian youth. Mainstream healthcare systems and providers are often not able to meet urban AI/AN morbidity, mortality, and public health concerns, particularly in a culturally sensitive manner.
Through the National Urban Indian Behavioral Health Awareness (NUIBHA) program, the National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) proposes to provide a national information-sharing program by which the awareness, visibility, advocacy, and education for behavioral health issues of urban Indian health care can be improved and achieve a national priority. As the only national nonprofit dedicated to the support and development of quality, accessible, and culturally-competent health services for AI/AN living in urban settings, NCUIH recognizes the need to provide education, technical support, and training to Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) to address ongoing behavioral health disparities and achieve Healthy People 2030 goals.
NCUIH is well-positioned to advance behavioral health outcomes within the urban Indian population by engaging the 41 UIOs that provide culturally appropriate health services to AI/AN people living in urban areas. NUIBHA, with its comprehensive national project approach, will engage UIOs in strategic activities that offer a platform to voice common concerns, raise awareness of the population’s behavioral health disparities on a national level, and promote the dissemination and sharing of best practices, resources, and techniques. NCUIH aims to provide technical assistance and resources that are culturally relevant, culturally competent, and tailored to the situational and contextual needs of behavioral health within the urban Indian community through technical assistance and a Community of Learning series. The Community of Learning model is a peer-to-peer resource sharing method that provides UIOs with an opportunity to learn from within the urban community of innovative practices, prevention efforts, grant writing and strategic planning best practices, to improve behavioral health programs and patient services at facilities serving urban AI/AN throughout the country. A national Behavioral Health Listening Session will be provided for urban AI/AN to not only bring forth challenges, but determine innovative solutions through discussions with behavioral health staff and experts in the field, leading to informed advocacy towards behavioral health care for urban AI/AN.
This national Behavioral Health Awareness Program will provide a platform and mechanism to examine and prioritize quality prevention, treatment, and recovery elements at the urban AI/AN population level. It supports better care and healthier communities through the dissemination of proven interventions and practices. The program will increase awareness, visibility, advocacy, and education for behavioral health issues on a national scale for UIOs and the urban AI/AN people they serve.