Norton Sound Health Corporation’s Behavioral Health Services’ “Rural Implementation of Early Identification and Prevention Activities for Youth” proposes to reduce suicidal behavior and substance misuse by screening for and promoting behavioral health among regional Alaska Native youth ages 12-24 years. Through a combination of early intervention and prevention activities, youth and adults will access skills contributing to individual and community wellness. The Norton Sound Region, home to 9,400 people and comprised of 15 largely Alaska Native villages and the City of Nome, has high rates of suicide and substance misuse prevalent among youth and adults, and historical trauma has a significant impact on overall wellness.
This project seeks to collaborate with stakeholders to conduct Community Assessments culminating in an Action Plan designed to address service gaps in the region. And Advisory Group and staff members will utilize information gained to develop protocols with youth-serving agencies for collaborative approaches to prevention, intervention, and postvention. A Project Director will oversee the activities with a Prevention Specialist and an Evaluator.
Project staff members propose to implement Question Persuade and Refer (QPR) trainings for the Nome Public School and Bering Strait School Districts. Both staff members and students will receive the training with emphasis on developing peer leaders through the model. Project staff members will further offer the program to regional communities as the project progresses. The Adolescent Matrix Model is planned for substance use treatment of those 12-24 years.
Project activities include the revision and deployment of a Depression Screener for early identification and intervention of behavioral concerns among the target population. By project’s end, the Screener will be implemented in all regional primary care and clinic settings.
Project staff will collaborate with stakeholders to develop culturally-attuned crisis response and postvention plans for targeted communities.
Project members will provide accessibility outreach in the communities and offer youth activities outside of the office setting. Activities will focus on strengthening the family core by reinforcing communication and engagement supports.
At the conclusion of the project, it is expected that youth suicide attempts and completions in addition to chronic substance use will decrease as a result of community training and education, family engagement, and protocol development.
NSHC expects to serve 150 youth annually or 750 over the life of the grant.