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J Psychoactive Drugs. 2011 Oct-Dec;43(4):337-42.

Design of a behavioral health program for urban American Indian/Alaska Native youths: a community informed approach.

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  • 1United American Indian Involvement, Inc., Los Angeles, CA, USA.


American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) urban youths experience significant mental health and substance use problems. However, culturally relevant treatment approaches that incorporate community perspectives within the urban setting are limited. This study analyzes community perspectives from AI/AN parents, AI/AN youths, and services providers within Los Angeles County. Information gathered was utilized to develop a needs assessment for AI/AN youths with mental health and substance use problems and to design a community-informed treatment approach. Nine focus groups and key informant interviews were conducted. The Los Angeles County community strongly expressed the need for providing urban AI/AN youths with traditional healing services and cultural activities within their treatment program. However, various barriers to accessing mental health and substance abuse treatment services were identified. An integrated treatment approach was subsequently designed as a result of input derived from community perspectives. The community believed that providing urban AI/AN youths with an integrated treatment approach has the potential to decrease the risk of mental health and substance abuse problems in addition to enhancing their cultural identity and self esteem.

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