Federal funds boost youth counseling

5 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Aroostook Band of Micmacs has received nearly $1 million in federal funds over the course of the next five years to confront the critical threat of suicide and substance abuse. Some of those funds will help the Presque Isle Boys and Girls Club provide counseling to members.

Fenton Jones, director of the Penobscot Boys and Girls Club, Presque Isle Unit, said Nov. 15 that the tribe will use the funds to promote wellness and healing for native youth through necessary collaboration among community agencies and the implementation of evidence-based curriculum.  

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the centers for Mental Health Services and Substance Use Prevention recently announced 30 awards. The Aroostook Band of Micmacs received $192,339 for the next five years to provide youth with substance abuse and suicide prevention programming in collaboration with the Penobscot Boys and Girls Club.

According to Jones, the band community is confronting the critical threat of opioid and substance abuse, which challenges local law enforcement, child welfare, substance abuse treatment, healthcare systems and prevention agencies.

“We may live in a rural community, but we are not immune to the drug epidemic affecting our society. Suicide is also a problem,” said Nichole Francis, CEO of the Penobscot Boys and Girls Club.

“Although it is not front and center, it happens and the instance is increasing. Funding from SAMHSA comes at a crucial time to create an early intervention program on both fronts. We need to educate our youth about drugs- over-the-counter, illegal, and prescribed. We need to educate our youth about suicide and the warning signs. We need to talk to our youth about the issues considered taboo,” Francis said.

“SAMHSA funding will help the Boys and Girls Club mold our youth into productive citizens equipped with the tools and knowledge to prevent suicide and avoid drugs,” said Francis.

The 30 funding awards totaled more than $7 million and went to American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, tribal consortia and tribal designees.