American Indian Health and Family Services
The mission of American Indian Health and Family Services of SE Michigan (AIHFS) is to enhance the physical, spiritual, emotional and mental well being of Native American families and other underserved populations in Southeastern Michigan. We serve the American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) urban population that resulted largely from the relocation policies of the federal government in the 1950s, policies designed to remove Native Americans from the reservation and relocate them in the major U.S. urban areas. The result was that about 65% of American Indians became dislocated; families were broken up. Communities destroyed. Consequently, today many are unemployed, living in poverty and at significant health risk with abnormally high incidences of heart disease, diabetes, depression, alcohol and drug addiction, and suicide.
Suicide is a major public health problem for American Indians in the United States (Olson & Wehab, 2006; La Fromboise, 2006; Goodkind, LaNoue & Milford, 2010). The rate of suicide for AI/AN is 70% higher than for that of the general population and youth between age 10 and 24 are the most at risk (Dorgan, 2010). While data are sparse for urban American Indian suicides, and suicide attempts, in particular, the risk factors associated with these outcomes would predict high incidence. We believe we are well situated to implement the goals of the Garrett Lee Smith State/Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention grant to:
- Increase the number of persons in youth serving organization such as schools, foster care systems, juvenile justice programs, trained to identify and refer youth at risk for suicide
- Increase the number of health, mental health, and substance abuse providers trained to assess, manage and treat youth at risk for suicide
- Increase the number of youth identified as at risk for suicide
- Increase the number of youth at risk for suicide referred for behavioral health care services
- Increase the number of youth at risk for suicide who receive behavioral health care services
- Increase the promotion of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Our SAMHSA Circles of Care (COC) grant has allowed us to develop the infrastructure to assess and build community readiness for creation of an integrative model with youth, adults, elders, educators and providers in urban Southeast Michigan. The infrastructure grants support an array of strategies and activities that have advanced our base for delivering and sustaining effective mental health services, in an integrated, culturally competent and comfortable setting.