IHS Funds Programs to Protect Native Youth from Substance Abuse

Forty-two awards totaling more than $7 million dollars will be granted to programs focusing on the education and prevention of substance abuse among Native youth.


The IHS announced 42 new awards to promote best practice strategies for preventing suicide and substance abuse, incorporating culturally appropriate approaches that are effective for tribal communities.

The awards, totaling more than $7 million for 1 year, are specifically for Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) funding. The award recipients focus on boosting positive youth development, fostering resiliency, and promoting family engagement among Native youth, the IHS says. “We know that protective factors provided through caring adults, traditional practices, and Native language and culture help offset negative outcomes and foster the long-term development of resilience,” said IHS Principal Deputy Director Mary Smith, in announcing the awards.

Current funded projects include the Ohkay Owingeh MSPI Project in New Mexico. The evidence- and practice-based prevention program, conducted by the local Boys and Girls Club, “strongly focuses” on the issues surrounding methamphetamine and other drugs and self-harm in Native communities.

Another funded program, Fresno American Indian Health Project, targets Native youth at risk for substance abuse and suicide in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Stronghold Project II after-school programs help to strengthen cultural systems and family capacity, addressing family violence and suicide due to substance abuse.

From 2009 through 2015, MSPI supported > 12,200 people entering treatment for methamphetamine abuse, plus > 16,560 substance use and mental health disorder encounters via telehealth. The funding also supported training nearly 17,000 professionals and community members in suicide crisis response, with nearly 700,000 encounters with youth through prevention activities. The recently announced awards build on the more than $13 million awarded in 2015.

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