The Tule River Yokuts tribe, located near Porterville California, and the Fresno American Indian Health Project (FAIHP), a member of the California Consortium for Urban Indian Health, was awarded a grant of $4 million over the next four years from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The grant will allow the tribe and FAIHP to implement a trauma-informed comprehensive and holistic system of care for American Indian youth and families in the San Joaquin Valley, California. It will increase the availability of direct mental health and substance abuse services available for American Indian and Alaska Native people in the region. The project will also provide greater outreach and prevention services to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health care, as well as promote information about the importance of accessing services. The service system will integrate traditional health practices and cultural services as well as a culture-based wraparound approach for working with youth and families in need.
This project represents an unprecedented partnership between a tribal government and an urban Indian health program in the delivery of a system of care for behavioral health services for Native American families that will serve an eight county region. With over 93,000 estimated Native Americans in the San Joaquin Valley, this funding is critical to meet the needs of these rural and urban Native communities. The grant proposal was developed in response to a comprehensive needs assessment of the Native American community, conducted by FAIHP and published in 2013, which found that 77% of respondents reported they did not know how to access mental health services in their community. While access to care is clearly a barrier, 55% of American Indian youth reported having a friend or family member that used drugs/alcohol, and 43% knew a friend or family member who tried to end their own life.
“Despite the benefits of health care reform including Medi-Cal expansion, American Indian communities face some of the highest rates of health disparities, chronic disease, and lack of access to care, in the nation. Inaccurate public assumptions that tribal gaming revenues and the limited funding available through the Indian Health Service should be sufficient to meet the health needs of tribal and urban Indian communities can create barriers to securing the resources necessary to raise the quality and quantity of available care.” said Jennifer Ruiz, the Executive Director of FAIHP. For these reasons, the tribe and FAIHP are optimistic about this cooperative agreement with SAMHSA, and the partnership’s ability to sustain the services once the grant program is complete. For more information, please visit http://www.faihp.org.