SAMHSA is an acronym unfamiliar to most people. But the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has important meaning to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) of the Flathead Nation.
The SAMHSA Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center hosted a CSKT Sustainability Site Visit on July 17 and 18 at the downtown Polson Health Center.
SAMHSA is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is charged with improving the quality and availability of treatment and rehabilitative services in order to reduce illness, death, disability and the cost to society resulting from substance abuse and mental illness.
On hand to conduct the site visit was Jerry Crowshoe, Intensive Training and Technical Assistance Director with Kauffman & Associates of Spokane, Wash. He was assisted by program manager Brandon Burke and program coordinator Vaughn Eagle Bear, both Lake County residents.
Sustainability site visits are funding by a SAMHSA grant, and the one-year funding period ends in September.
Training objectives for the site visit were to:
* Review signs and symptoms of suicide ideations and steps to recovery
* Discuss the relationship between fear and suicide
* Examine pre-Community Readiness Assessment (CRA) scores and activities completed to increase community readiness scores
* Generate strategies and approaches to maintain suicide prevention efforts.
A FOCUS of the site visit was to identify approaches to prevent suicide on macro and micro levels.
The intent of the program was motivating participants to collaborate in identifying roots of the problem.
During the final hour of the site visit, Crowshoe spoke about an evaluation and feedback from the concerned participants.
“I can’t overemphasize this,” he said, and he wants to continue to provide services that are “out there for the kids.
“I may not see a (positive) change in them, but they will see a change in them,” Crowshoe added. “I’m trying to make sense with what’s important to you.”
He stressed the need for the substance abuse and mental health program to be “transparent” to the community. “This is what we’re trying to do with the tribal health program,” Crowshoe said.
A slide shown by Crowshoe indicated that project services remain true to the core mission over time, but are able to change or adjust services as the tribal community’s resource needs change. Also, the project has an oversight panel that includes representatives of key organizational roles, such as those from the tribal health center and/or local schools.
The project’s mission correlates with the tribal Comprehensive Plan and Tribal Action Plan. The short- and long-term benefits of the prevention activities are clear to youth, community members and program staff.
Other programs or organizations demonstrate active support, such as adding activities to job descriptions, co-sponsoring prevention activities, providing in-kind meeting space, and providing office space to co-locate prevention staff.
The program was broken down between pluses and minuses in terms of substance abuse and mental health.
SIX COMMUNITY members — three men and three women — attended both days of the site visit, and each provided valuable input to Crowshoe, Burke and Eagle Bear. Here is input that they voiced in summary of the visit:
taking care of yourself.”
“We all have goals helping different people. I also know the struggles … we want less in the future.”
“I enjoyed being part of something that will help the community (pertaining to suicide, drug and alcohol issues). It sounds like you have to get out of the box.”
“We need to find ways of getting people more informed.
“My wish is that we continue to collaborate.”
Crowshoe spoke highly of input by the site visit participants.
“You guys are the few, but your are the mighty,” he said to wrap up the program. “I feel like I’m standing on your shoulders to see the visions.”
According to Crowshoe, prevention and connection are critical to addressing ongoing issues.
“Connect … that is what you need to do with these kids,” he said.