The Sac and Fox Nation Youth Native Connections will reach youth, ages 12-24, and families that are experiencing mental health and substance abuse issues. Over a 5 year period, the Native Connections Program will be offered to over five hundred Tribal youth. Through outreach, education and prevention activities, group, family, and individual therapy, the Native Connections Program will increase the options for assistance and encourage hope for the future in Tribal youth.
The Native Youth in the territorial jurisdiction of the Sac and Fox Nation face significant health care disparities that increase their risk across all domains of life, including behavioral health care, disparities as compared to Non-native counterparts. Approximately ¼ of Native Youth live in poverty (estimates range from 23% to 28%), and reports worsening of mental health symptoms on average when compared to their Non-native counterparts (5.9 mentally unhealthy days for Native Youth, and 4.1 mentally unhealthy days for non-native Counterparts), which includes depressive symptoms. Compounding factors include significantly higher rates of heavy Alcohol use in the Native Community, 14% when compared to the Non-native community of 3%.
The goals and objectives of the Native Connections Program strive to enhance and increase engagement of Tribal youth and their families through establishing groups that target needed areas for education and prevention (both suicide and substance abuse), training of staff and elders in identifying substance use, abuse, and dependence, decreasing use of substances, and promoting abstinence and sobriety for all.