San Diego American Indian Health Center
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The Native Connections Project, proposed by the San Diego American Indian Health Center (SDAIHC), will develop an integrated and culturally respectful system of care that identifies and responds to the mental health, substance use disorders, and cultural trauma needs of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth through the age of 24 years residing in the San Diego metropolitan area.
The proposed project will serve urban Indians, a population that has been described as “invisible” because they are not affiliated with a single Tribe, reservation, or cultural tradition. The AI/AN population within San Diego County is estimated at 54,657 with more than one-third (37%) under the age of 25. Statistics show AI youth died from opioid overdoses at a rate of 8.4 per 100,000 – the highest of any ethnic group. Suicide rates were higher as well at 34.3 deaths per 100,000 people for males and 9.9 deaths for females. Further, more than one-third (36.6%) of AI/AN youth live at or below Federal Poverty Guidelines, and nearly one quarter of the AI/AN residents have the age of 25 (23.8%) do not have a high school diploma or GED.
The SDAIHC Native Connections project team will implement the evidenced-based SAFE-T model to include Universal Prevention Strategies and interventions to support the: (1) establishment of an integrated cross-community behavioral health program supporting awareness and prevention of mental health disorders, and suicidal and substance use behaviors within the AI/AN your population residing in SDAIHC’s service area; (2) engagement with local AI/AN community agencies and non-Native organizations, including public and private agencies, to establish a multi-sectoral system leading to improved coordination of culturally responsive mental health and trauma based services for AI/AN youth; and (3) development of a sustainable continuum of care services model for AI/AN youth as they transition to adulthood. To reach its overarching goals, SDAIHC will: (1) utilize its existing Youth and Community Advisory Boards and expand to include an Inter-Agency Advisory County to facility community collaboration; (2) host an Annual Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) fostering strategic collaboration and planning for the Native Connections local system of care; (3) develop and implement collaborative social marketing strategies focused on reducing negative attitudes about mental health and behavioral health disorders aimed to increase utilization of services by the AI/AN community; (4) provide a minimum of 20 project trainings for staff, community, and program partners on Native American history and cultural practices and preferences; and (5) provide a minimum of 30 specialized trainings to increase the mental health awareness and literacy concerning Native American youth behavioral health issues in effort to recognize signs of mental disorders, substance use disorders, and suicidal ideation. SDAIHC anticipates its proposed project will annually reach an unduplicated count of 600 AI/AN youth for an overall project reach of 3,000 AI/AN youth.