Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB)'s Native Connections Project, titled All My Relations, is designed to reduce suicide and the impact of mental and substance use disorders among urban American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) aged 12-24 living in King County, Washington. The project will increase protective factors by strengthening AI/AN youth cultural identity, and improve access to Indigenous-knowledge informed behavioral health care, especially for justice-involved youth and youth experiencing homelessness.
King County's AI/AN youth relatives, a group of 7,900 people, experience devastating health disparities as a result of generational trauma. Illicit substance use rates are an average of 36% for AI/AN youth compared with 27% for all youth. Almost a quarter of our youth population has experienced suicidal ideation, the highest rate of any race or ethnicity. This project's goals are to (1) increase access to evidence-based and Indigenous knowledge-centered behavioral health treatment and support for AI/AN youth by coordinating systems of care; and (2) increase the protective factors that mitigate trauma and prevent suicide and substance misuse by strengthening urban AI/AN cultural identity, leadership opportunities and connection to community. The project will serve 100 youth annually. The project's objectives are for 200 individuals to have received evidence-based mental health or related services after referral; and serve 500 unduplicated youth across all project activities by the end of Year 5.
To coordinate systems of behavioral health care, SIHB will reach out to systems partners to create pathways to Indigenous knowledge-informed evidence treatment for youth leaving Emergency Departments, youth experiencing homelessness, and youth leaving juvenile detention facilities. The project will also screen all relatives aged 14-24 with SBIRT+ to identify and address substance misuse and mental health concerns. To build protective factors, SIHB and partners UNEA and Native Wellness Institute will carry out: (1) youth-led Kiis Youth Council and its youth-driven activities and outreach; (2) Gathering of Native Americans (GONA); (3) Traditional Indian Medicine and intergenerational Elders' Care Projects; and (4) Power Hour online presentations. We will train community members with the evidence-based practice Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) suicide prevention trainings.