HHS agenda aims to improve behavioral health for Natives

01/02/2018 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced the release of the Tribal Behavioral Health Agenda, a collaborative tribal-federal blueprint highlighting the extent to which behavioral health challenges affect Native communities.

The agenda also includes strategies and priorities to reduce these problems and improve the behavioral health of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

According to the HHS, American Indians and Alaska Natives represent 2 percent of the total U.S. population (6.6 million people), but experience disproportionately high rates of behavioral health problems such as mental and substance use disorders. In addition, these communities’ behavioral health needs have traditionally been underserved, the HHS states.

Mental and substance use disorders – which may result from adverse childhood experiences, historical and intergenerational trauma and other factors – are also reflected in high rates of interpersonal violence, major depression, excessive alcohol use, suicide and suicide risk, HHS officials said. Overall, these problems pose a corrosive threat to the health and well-being of many American Indians and Alaska Natives, HHS officials said.

“This new initiative represents an important step in our government-to-government relationship and gives American Indian and Alaska Native tribes a greater role in determining how to address their behavioral health needs with urgency and respect,” Kana Enomoto, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration principal deputy administrator, said.

The Tribal Behavioral Health Agenda blueprint includes the following tenants:

• Provides a clear national statement about the extent and impact of behavioral health and related problems on the well-being of tribal communities,

• Recognizes and supports tribal efforts to incorporate their respective cultural wisdom and traditional practices in programs and services that contribute to improved well-being,

• Establishes five foundational elements that should be considered and integrated into existing and future program and policy efforts, and

• Elevates priorities and strategies to reduce persistent behavioral health problems for Native youth, families, and communities.

Findings from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate that adult (ages 18 and older) American Indians and Alaska Natives had experienced higher rates of past year mental illness compared with the general population (21.2 percent versus 17.9 percent). Similarly, American Indians and Alaska Natives ages 12 and older had higher levels of past year illicit substance use than the general population (22.9 percent versus 17.8 percent), the survey states.

According to the agenda, its framework is organized around the f0llowing elements that provide content and direction for collaborative efforts:

• Focusing on healing from historical and intergenerational trauma,

• Using a socio-cultural-ecological approach to improving behavioral health,

• Ensuring support for both prevention and recovery,

• Strengthening behavioral health systems and related services and supports, and

• Improving national awareness and visibility of behavioral health issues faced by tribal communities.

“The IHS is committed to improving behavioral health care for the American Indian and Alaska Native people by using the Tribal Behavioral Health Agenda to integrate care within community health systems,” IHS Principal Deputy Director Mary L. Smith said. “This agenda recognizes that successful and sustained behavioral change requires cultural reconnection, community participation, increased resources, and the ability of those serving American Indian and Alaska Native populations to be responsive to emerging issues and changing needs.”

The agenda also includes the American Indian and Alaska Native Cultural Wisdom Declaration, which acknowledges that cultural wisdom and traditional practices are fundamental to achieving improvements in behavioral health. In addition, the agenda uses historical and current contexts for developing the recommendations that form the blueprint. It also incorporates shared priorities and strategies that can be addressed by tribes, federal agencies, and other entities working together.

According to the HHS, tribal leaders called for improved collaboration with federal agencies to address behavioral health challenges. The agenda is the result of consultation among tribal leaders, the SAMHSA, IHS and the National Indian Health Board.

“Tribal leaders and stakeholders provided meaningful and comprehensive input to create the Tribal Behavioral Health Agenda, which will be a valuable tool and resource to address the critical behavioral health needs we see across Indian Country,” NIHB Executive Director Stacy Bohlen said.

HHS officials said the agenda honors the relationship the U.S. government has with federally recognized tribes and reflects effective government-to-government interactions. They said the agenda’s development was based on identifying the perspectives of tribes while building strategies based on their shared values and beliefs.


03/23/2018 03:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, a nonprofit clinic providing health and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma, on March 20 recognized the impact HIV/AIDS has on Native Americans through the observance of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Although American Indians and Alaska Natives’ HIV infection is proportional to the rest of the United States population size, certain measures within the overall statistics of new HIV infections and diagnoses are disproportionate compared to other races or ethnicities. Of the 39,513 people with a HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2015, more than 200 were American Indians and Alaska Natives. Of those, 73 percent were men and 26 percent were women. “The topic of HIV/AIDS remains a serious health threat to the Native American community,” OKCIC CEO Robyn Sunday-Allen said. “It is crucial that prevention programs be tailored to the specific needs of this population.” American Indians and Alaska Natives are statistically more likely to face challenges associated with risk for HIV infection, which includes high rates of sexually transmitted disease; substance abuse leading to engaging in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex; and issues related to poverty, such as lower education levels and limited access to health care. The OKCIC encourages the Native community to get educated, get tested and get involved in HIV prevention, care and treatment. It recommends that all adults and young adults get tested for HIV at least once as a routine part of medical care. Those who are at a higher risk should get tested every year. There are ways to prevent HIV infection, including abstinence (not having sex), limiting the number of sexual partners, never injecting drugs and sharing needles and always use condoms properly when having sex. People may be able to take medication (Truvada) for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). The only way to know if you have HIV is to be tested. Knowing your HIV status helps you make choices that prevent you from getting HIV or from transmitting HIV. Visit <a href="http://www.gettested.cdc.gov" target="_blank">gettested.cdc.gov</a>, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or visit <a href="http://www.hiv.gov" target="_blank">www.hiv.gov</a> for more information. THE OKCIC was established in 1974 to provide health care and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma. The clinic staff cares for more than 18,000 patients from more than 200 federally recognized tribes every year. American Indians receive services such as medical, dental, pediatrics, prenatal, pharmacy, optometry, physical fitness, nutrition, family programs and behavioral health services. For more information, call 405-948-4900 or visit <a href="http://www.okcic.com" target="_blank">www.okcic.com</a>.
03/22/2018 12:00 PM
SALINA – Every year when spring arrives, so do the sprouts of bright green stems in the woods and hollows known to Cherokees as wild onions. Wild onions are often cooked with grease or lard and are boiled or pan-fried. Cherokee Nation clinical dietitian Tonya Swim said there are healthier alternatives for preparing the plant. “A lot of people use lard or bacon grease and that’s a flavor enhancer. So an option that you can do instead using some sort of bacon grease or high-fat product would be to add some sort of stock, like vegetable stock, that would be able to add flavor without the extra fat,” she said. Swim said wild onions could also be cooked using vegetable oil when pan-fried. “If you’re going to pan fry with eggs, then using a vegetable oil instead of the bacon grease or lard would be a healthier choice,” she said. She added that they could be used in other recipes to replace related plants such as chives or scallions. “You can basically replace anything that would have what we call little green onions or chives. Anything that would have those as an ingredient you can…use the wild onions to replace that in pretty much any recipe.” She said one piece of wild onion contains approximately 20 calories, 4.65 gram of carbohydrates, and 0.96 grams of protein. It also contains 0.06 grams of fat but is rich in vitamins such as vitamins K and C. “I know that this is a very traditional thing for people. We as dietitians, we try to offer healthier alternatives,” Swim said. “The recipes that they use are individual per family. They have their own special twist. They have their own special take and they hold those near and dear to their heart.” Swim provided two recipes, one for traditional wild onions and the other containing wild onions as an alternative ingredient. Recipes are courtesy of the University of Kansas American Indian Health and Diet Project and can be found at <a href="http://www.aihd.ku.edu/recipes/index.html" target="_blank">www.aihd.ku.edu/recipes/index.html</a>. <strong>Wild Onions</strong> <strong>Ingredients:</strong> 1 cup of chopped wild onions (peel tough outer portion of bulb and cut away roots) 1 cup of vegetable stock <strong>Preparation:</strong> In heated frying pan or skillet, cook the onions in the stock until the water is almost gone. Then add desired seasonings (e.g. pepper and garlic). Add 6 stirred scrambled eggs (turkey, duck, goose or chicken) and cook until done, or just add onions to other dishes. <strong>Super Dip</strong> <strong>Ingredients:</strong> 1 cup of tomato salsa (finely blended) ½ cup of diced bell pepper 1 cup of hominy ½ cup of wild onions (or scallions from the store) 1 chopped jalapeno (or if preferred mild, use ¼ cup of pickled jalapenos) 1 cup of chopped tomatoes 1 cup of black-eyed peas salt to taste pepper to taste <strong>Preparation:</strong> Mix in bowl, cover and let sit for at least 12 hours to marinate. Serve with homemade tortillas.
03/15/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital CEO Brian Hail was recently named a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, an honor that has been awarded to less than 10,000 health care executives around the world. The American College of Healthcare Executives has more than 40,000 health care professionals whose mission is to achieve excellence in the health field. Members who achieve a high level of excellence and complete a set list of requirements are named a fellow of the college. “The health care management field plays a vital role in providing high-quality care to the people in our communities, which makes having a standard of excellence promoted by a professional organization critically important,” ACHE President and CEO Deborah J. Bowen, said. “By becoming an ACHE Fellow and earning the distinction of board certification from ACHE, health care leaders demonstrate a commitment to excellence in serving their patients and the community.” The board certification is a more than two-year process of meeting academic criteria, having health care experience, maintaining a high-level of character and professionalism and passing a comprehensive exam. “I believe that the FACHE credential represents the commitment to excellence in healthcare for our stakeholders,” Hail said. “Meeting the requirements and maintaining the credential helps to assure a commitment to ongoing development and learning in the healthcare landscape that is constantly changing.” In addition to serving as chief executive officer of W.W. Hastings Hospital for five years, Hail worked in the aeromedical field as a flight nurse for 13 years. He completed his master’s degree in business administration at Northeastern State University. For more information about ACHE, visit <a href="http://www.ache.org/" target="_blank">http://www.ache.org/</a>.
03/06/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH - On Feb. 28, the Cherokee Nation became the first tribe to proclaim a day “Rare Disease Awareness Day.” Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed the proclamation with Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden; Jade Day, CN citizen and “Twist of Fate Funding” and patient engagement director; Health Services Medical Director Dr. James Stallcup; and Dr. James Baker, medical director at the Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee, in attendance. Also in attendance was Day’s 10-year old-son, Gaven, who has FG1 Syndrome, a rare disease that has no current research, treatment or cure. It is a rare genetic syndrome caused by one or more recessive genes located on the X chromosome causing physical anomalies and developmental delays. There are more than 7,000 known rare diseases worldwide, and 95 percent of these diseases do not have a current treatment or cure. One in 10 Americans suffer from rare diseases, and more than 50 percent are children. More than 50 percent of those children will die before reaching their fifth birthday. Day urged Baker and the witnesses to encourage leaders worldwide in raising awareness of rare diseases and to expand research and improve access to treatments. For more information, call 918-869-3474 or email <a href="mailto: jade@atwistoffate.org">jade@atwistoffate.org</a>.
03/04/2018 04:00 PM
CLAREMORE – The Claremore Indian Hospital will sponsor a Veterans Affairs Enrollment Fair on March 8 in the hospital’s Conference Room 1. Hospital officials said the fair is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to assist their Native American veteran patients in applying for eligibility for health care services through the VA. “We will have Claremore Indian Hospital benefit coordinators and representatives from the VA to assist with the application processes,” Sheila Dishno, Claremore Indian Hospital patient benefit coordinator, said. “We will also have Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs here to help with those that need help filing a service claim. Please make plans to attend and bring your financial information (income and resource information) and DD-214 (military discharge) papers.” If already enrolled, call 918-342-6240, 918-342-6511 or 918-342-6559 so a hospital official can update your file.
03/03/2018 04:00 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Oklahoma will be at the Claremore Indian Hospital on March 7 to assist patients with signing up for free to low-cost health insurance. The insurance company will be in Conference Room 2 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to help people sign up for health insurance. Sheila Dishno, patient benefit coordinator at the hospital, said people who attend the fair should bring their Social Security cards, pay stubs, W-2 forms or wage and tax statements, policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about any health insurance they or their families could get from an employer. The hospital is located at 101 S. Moore Ave. For more information, call 918-342-6240, 918-342-6559 or 918-342-6511.