The Navajo Nation (NN) is a federally recognized tribe and proposes to lead efforts to coordinate activities and services related to the emerging public health concern of opioid misuse and to protect the health and safety of the NN. The goal is to continue to identify the impact (morbidity and mortality) of opioid misuse and to strategize a holistic, comprehensive approach to expand the Navajo culture practice-based evidence and evidence-based practices for opioid prevention, treatment and recovery services. In addition, opioid misuse surveillance can be developed through adequate data tracking systems. According to the NN Division of Community Development database website, there are 331,813 enrolled NN members. The Navajo Area I.H.S. 2021 User Population was 238,951. The Navajo Division of Behavioral and Mental Health Services (NDBMHS) is established under the Navajo Department of Health (NDOH) within the Executive Branch of the NN government. The purpose of NDBMHS is to provide substance use, mental health and behavioral health, and to ensure that a quality, cultural and spiritual comprehensive approach is utilized for healing. The project estimates to reach at least half of the I.H.S. user population at 120,900. The NDBMHS proposes the three (3) priority areas:
1. Develop and implement a NN Opioid Response Strategic Plan.
2. Increase Evidence-based Practices for opioid prevention, treatment and recovery support.
3. Increase the capacity of NDBMHS to effectively and efficiently collect data and implement surveillance on opioid related activities.
The NDBMHS-NDOH acknowledges and incorporates the Tribal Behavioral Health Agenda's American Indian and Alaska Native Cultural Wisdom Declaration which highlights the importance of tribal identities, culture, spiritual beliefs, and practices for improving well-being. NDBMHS proposes to use the Navajo Wellness Model (NWM) which is promising practice-based evidence and cultural-based practice that is a cycle interwoven practice of well-being of Nitsakahakees (Thinking), Nahata (Planning), Iina (Implementation) and Sihasin (Evaluation). Overall, the beauty of this approach is that it speaks to the specific life way of the Navajo people and community through the Navajo language and cultural practices.