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Interior Department Announces Behavioral Health and Wellness Program for Tribal Schools

BIE schools will receive virtual counseling and on-site crisis services

he Department of the Interior in June announced the Bureau of Indian Education awarded an additional five-year contract to increase access for behavioral health and wellness support to all students and staff at Bureau-funded schools and programs. Initially designed to increase access to services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Behavioral Health and Wellness Program provides virtual counseling and on-site crisis services.

“The Interior Department is committed to creating positive, safe and culturally-relevant learning environments. I am proud of the hard work by the Bureau of Indian Education to ensure that Indigenous youth have the support they need in a culturally-relevant and supportive environment for their physical, mental and emotional well-being,” said Secretary Deb Haaland.

The BIE’s Behavioral Health and Wellness Program provides students and staff at all Bureau-funded schools and programs with Indigenous focused, evidence-based and trauma-informed behavioral health and wellness supports. Services are tailored to meet the unique and diverse mental, cultural, spiritual, emotional and social needs of Indigenous communities served by BIE.

Services include tele-behavioral health counseling focused on providing short-term, solution-focused, and culturally sensitive virtual counseling, a BIE-specific 24/7 crisis hotline, and onsite crisis support. The program’s clinical team is primarily staffed with Indigenous clinicians, who have direct experience serving Native communities.

Though BIE funds are not available in Alaska, this utilization of federal funds for Indian education should be noted, especially in compacting education discussions.

To read more, visit the US Department of the Interior here.