SAMHSA’s Efforts

SAMHSA provides training and technical assistance to tribes, such as help with prevention program planning and Tribal Action Plan development.

Tribal Consultation

SAMHSA acknowledges tribal sovereignty and supports the unique government-to-government relationship that exists between federally recognized tribes and the federal government. This support is evidenced in: the programs, services, and resources offered; the policies and processes developed and implemented; and by an informed staff. Tribal governments are not required to waive sovereign immunity as a condition of receiving SAMHSA block grant funds or services. For a complete list of the 566 federally recognized tribes visit the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) website from the Department of the Interior (DOI) for Indian entities eligible to receive federal government services.

SAMHSA considers consultation an enhanced form of communication which emphasizes trust, respect, and shared responsibility. Consultation is an open and free exchange of information and opinion among parties which leads to mutual understanding and comprehension, the purpose of which is reaching consensus to the greatest extent possible.

SAMHSA has maintained a SAMHSA-specific Tribal Consultation Policy (TCP) — 2017 (PDF | 7 MB) since 2007, which serves as a guide to tribes and all SAMHSA centers and offices. It outlines the SAMHSA-specific consultation process in accordance with the prescribed HHS TCP process and objectives. For more information on the HHS tribal consultation policy and process, visit the HHS Intergovernmental External Affairs Tribal Affairs website.

SAMHSA keeps tribal leaders and the American Indian and Alaska Native population informed on significant programs, resources, and policy development. One of the communications mechanisms is through “Dear Tribal Leader” (DTL) letters. Learn more about the current DTL correspondence.

SAMHSA Tribal Technical Advisory Committee

The SAMHSA Tribal Technical Advisory Committee (TTAC) provides a forum for information exchange between tribal leaders and SAMHSA staff to help identify and address urgent mental health and substance use needs among American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

The purpose of the SAMHSA TTAC is to provide a venue where SAMHSA may solicit advice and views about substance use and mental health issues and discuss collaborative solutions. The SAMHSA TTAC does not supplant any other government-to-government consultation activities undertaken by HHS or SAMHSA. It provides an established, recurring venue wherein elected tribal leaders can advise SAMHSA on the effective and efficient use of services and resources needed to ensure the behavioral health needs of tribes, tribal members, and tribal communities are met.

The SAMHSA TTAC is composed of individuals who are elected tribal officials of Indian tribes and is exempt from Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) requirements. SAMHSA TTAC membership is governed by a charter that outlines roles and responsibilities. Learn more about the SAMHSA TTAC membership, charter, and meeting minutes.

The SAMHSA American Indian and Alaska Native Team (SAI/ANT)

The SAI/ANT is an internal SAMHSA workgroup chartered in 2013 to assist with ensuring positive behavioral health outcomes of American Indian and Alaska Native people through SAMHSA-wide coordination of resources and services. Membership includes leaders; managers; and project, grant, and policy staff who strive to ensure SAMHSA’s resources are culturally appropriate and accessible to tribes and tribal organizations and the American Indian and Alaska Native population at large.

The SAI/ANT addresses all internal and external program and administrative activities related to SAMHSA’s American Indian and Alaska Native portfolio, including tribal governments, tribal organizations and consortia, urban Indian organizations, and other American Indian and Alaska Native serving organizations. Activities include actions required to support the SAMHSA TTAC; Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee; HHS American Indian and Alaska Native reporting; and SAMHSA tribal technical assistance, engagement, and communications.

Tribal Law and Order Act

The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA), which amended the Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1986, requires SAMHSA’s Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse to work with other federal agencies and offices that oversee federally recognized tribes to coordinate a collective federal effort to address substance use concerns.

The TLOA allows a tribe to develop a comprehensive tribal action planning process resulting in a Tribal Action Plan (TAP). The TAP coordinates resources and programs to help achieve behavioral health prevention and treatment goals. Learn more about TLOA and the TAP process.

Technical Assistance

To address behavioral health issues in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, SAMHSA has established dedicated technical assistance centers and other resources that serve tribes and tribal organizations.

The SAMHSA Tribal Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Center uses a culturally relevant, evidence-based, holistic approach to support Native communities in their self-determination efforts through infrastructure development and capacity building, as well as program planning and implementation. It provides training and technical assistance on mental and/or substance use disorders, suicide prevention, and mental health promotion. It also offers broad, focused, and intensive training and technical assistance to federally recognized tribes, SAMHSA tribal grantees, and tribal organizations serving Indian Country.

Learn more about the Tribal TTA Center’s services:

  • Gathering of Native Americans—a community prevention and strategic planning curriculum developed by SAMHSA in partnership with American Indian and Alaska Natives
  • Learning Communities—a program that brings different tribes with common beliefs, principles, and goals together virtually to discuss special topics and share experiences and materials

The Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies (CAPT) Training and Technical Assistance Services is a national substance abuse prevention training and technical assistance system dedicated to strengthening prevention systems and the nation’s behavioral health workforce. Nationwide, SAMHSA’s CAPT provides state-of-the-science training and technical assistance to 20 tribes supported under SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework and its Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant programs, as well as to tribal epidemiological workgroups and innovative local programs participating in SAMHSA’s Service to Science Initiative. Tribal governments are not required to waive sovereign immunity as a condition of receiving SAMHSA block grant funds or services.

The SAMHSA-funded National American Indian and Alaska Native Addiction Technology Transfer Center strengthens and promotes systematic behavioral health practice changes that both honor and contribute to the health and well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native communities, tribes, and individuals.

Children and Youth

American Indian and Alaska Native children and their families continue to face disparities in health status and access to health care. SAMHSA has a number of programs designed to increase the capacity of tribal communities to offer behavioral health prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

SAMHSA’s Circles of Care is a three-year infrastructure grant program to provide communities with tools and resources to build a holistic, community-based system of care capable of addressing the mental health and wellness of children and their families. The program brings Circles of Care grant staff together with local health providers, tribal leaders, spiritual advisors, and young people and their families to assess gaps in services and develop comprehensive system of care models to improve coordination and collaboration.

SAMHSA’s State/Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention Cooperative Agreements support states and tribes (including Alaska Villages and urban Indian organizations) in developing and implementing statewide or tribal youth suicide prevention and early intervention strategies, grounded in public and private collaboration. Such efforts involve public and private collaboration among youth-serving institutions and agencies, including schools, educational institutions, juvenile justice systems, foster care systems, substance use and mental health programs, and other child and youth supporting organizations.

SAMHSA’s Native Connections Cooperative Agreements provide a key source of funding for programs that reduce substance abuse and mental illness among native young people up to and including the age of 24. The grant program is open to federally recognized tribes or a consortia of tribal entities that show the highest rates of suicide per capita over the past 10 years.

For SAMHSA’s Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) tribal communities’ youngest members are one of the focus populations. The program aims to promote health and well-being in children from birth to age 8. The grant program focuses on early childhood and its goal is to create a shared vision for child wellness that brings different child-serving systems together and aligns behavioral and physical health services.

The Strategic Prevention Framework Partnerships for Success State and Tribal Initiative (SPF-PFS) grant program targets communities helping young American Indians and Alaska Natives. SPF-PFS grants support programs to address underage drinking and prescription drug abuse among young people between the ages of 12 and 25.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI) improves treatment and services for all children and adolescents who have experienced traumatic events or witnessed such events. A network of centers has been established to promote the development and use of effective treatment and services, to develop resources on trauma for professionals, consumers, and the public, and to develop trauma-focused public education and professional training and other field development activities. The University of Montana’s National Native Trauma Center is a NCTSI category II recipient.

Learn more about the help available to native young people on SAMHSA’s Native Youth Resources Page.

Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice

SAMHSA is committed to enhancing substance use treatment services in existing adult tribal healing-to-wellness courts and in all juvenile treatment drug courts. SAMHSA’s Treatment Drug Courts grant program aims to break the cycle of criminal behavior, alcohol and/or substance use, and incarceration among Native Americans.

Suicide Prevention Among Tribal Youth

Suicide rates are much higher among Native American youth than among youth in the United States overall. In 2010, the suicide rate among American Indians and Alaska Natives ages 8-24 was 14.98 per 100,000, more than twice the suicide rate for the general population within the same age range. Helping tribal communities reduce youth suicide is one of SAMHSA’s most important missions.

The SAMHSA presentation, Promoting Suicide Prevention Efforts in American Indian/Alaska Native Communities: A Cross-Agency Approach – 2014 (PDF | 112 KB), provides information on the federal government’s suicide prevention efforts.

SAMHSA’s State/Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention Cooperative Agreements focus on early intervention strategies.

The SAMHSA Tribal Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Center coordinates resources and programs that address suicide prevention in tribal communities. It also provides information about other organizations and resources that promote suicide prevention.

The SAMHSA-funded Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) also has a special focus on American Indians and Alaska Natives. The SPRC is a national center that helps advance suicide prevention efforts in states, tribal communities, campus organizations and coalitions, and groups that serve populations with high suicide rates. It also provides technical assistance, training, and helpful resources. To learn about related SAMHSA programs, visit the Suicide Prevention topic.

Last Updated: 12/21/2017