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Health Report: Fairbanks Native Association receives grant for mental health early intervention screening

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 4:19 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks Native Association (FNA) has received a grant to fund mental health early intervention screening programs.

According to Perry Ahsogeak, Director of Behavioral Health for Fairbanks Native Association, the $3.9 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration will be used to fund a new program using Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) over the next five years.

“What we’re doing is we’re screening for alcohol use or mental health issues, and that’s usually done from the onset,” Ahsogeak explained. “If you come in the door, we want to screen you to see what resources you might need. Once we do that screening, we’ll do a brief intervention. We want to be able to do something right now to help you address those issues. After we get to the next point, we’ll do a referral to treatment to either one of our programs, or a program within the state.”

FNA will be partnering with other organizations in Fairbanks that also service individuals who would benefit from this program. These organizations include ThrivAlaska, Effie Kokrine Charter School, and Interior AIDS Association.

“We’re looking at both substance use when it comes to alcohol, drugs, opioids, anything like that that you might have an issue with,” Ahsogeak said. “We’re also looking at what mental issues you may have. The reason for this program is to identify those needs at an early onset instead of waiting until later on when they become more challenging, and that’s our intent. We’re going to be focusing on people within the community of Fairbanks. We’re going to partner with a couple of agencies such as Interior Aids Association [or] Effie Kokrine to identify those individuals who might have a need for those services.”

The hope is to keep the program going beyond the five year plan, to ensure those who may need this service can receive the assistance they need according to Ahsogeak.

“This is our way to start the program now with the funding that we receive,” Ahsogeak contined. “Our hope is to sustain the program so that it doesn’t end after the five years. With our ability to use third party revenue, we should be able to sustain the program and continue the programs as long as we have a need for that.”

Ahsogeak added, “We want to be able to identify those needs now instead of waiting till later. We wanna work with the people within our community. Anybody who comes through the door will receive service from us. It’s not specific to the Native population, but anybody who comes into the door.”

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