News & Announcements

Hispanic Heritage Month is Sep 15-Oct 15

Posted: September 15, 2014

National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 – October 15, 2014, the theme for this year is – “Hispanics: A legacy of history, a present of action and a future of success”. 

According to the Library of Congress, "National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the contributions Hispanic Americans have made to American society and culture and to honor five of our Central American neighbors who celebrate their Independence days in September." The Library of Congress provides a full history of presidential proclamations commemorating this time of observation.

Visit the Office of Minority Health (OMH) website to download resources. Visit the OMH Spanish Language Website.

In Northwest Alaska, Teens to Lead the Way in Suicide Prevention

Posted: September 12, 2014

For the last five years, the Northwest Arctic Borough School District has coordinated the Youth Leaders program, training up approximately 120 students to serve as social "captains" at their schools in the 11 villages in the region. The goal is two-fold: To teach the students to be leaders in their communities and to deal with social problems, like bullying, drug abuse, domestic violence and suicide.

Alaska has long struggled to deal with suicide as a state and has led the nation in overall suicide rates. According to the latest numbers from the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics, there were almost 22 suicides for every 100,000 people in the state. In the Northwest Arctic Borough it was almost double that. The statewide teen suicide rate, for those between the ages of 15 and 19, was 24 for every 100,000 people. In the Northwest Arctic Borough, the teen rate was seven times that, based on data collected between 2008 and 2012.

While the data continues to catch up, leaders in Northwest Alaska are looking to the program as a success story in preventing suicides. So far they’ve had phenomenal results: There hasn’t been a teen suicide in the borough in four years, according to administrators.

Some of that credit appears to go to the program, which has worked hard to shift the social responsibilities in the schools to the students. Not only are students, who range in age from middle through high school, engaged, they are keenly aware of the problems facing their peers and communities.  

During a week-long training for youth leader captains -- who serve as leaders in the program -- one of the first things students learned about is the five stages of grief. Using art to share their experiences, students then worked with teachers new to the district to share their experiences.


Grandparents Are Powerful Allies in Preventing Teen Drug Use

Posted: September 11, 2014

Grandparents adore their grandchildren – without judgment – and the grandchild adores them. This means that grandparents have a unique opportunity to approach the topic of drugs and alcohol with this generation, in a way that is unlike parents who are the enforcers of discipline.  Grandparents can have open and honest conversations with kids without judgment, yelling, criticism or punishment.

The conversation on drugs and alcohol won’t just happen by itself. Grandparents should begin by establishing a bond, so this important conversation becomes a natural part of that close relationship. Grandparents can connect with their grandchild initially on their terms and in their world; depending on the age and interests of their grandchild, they might go shopping, play board games or cards, or pick a TV series that they watch together each week. Kids and teens also love to learn new skills, and grandparents are the perfect teachers. Grandparents can teach the child cooking, gardening, crafting or sailing — the opportunities are endless. The goal is to bond and make memories, not to nag or criticize. If an activity is not fun for either grandparent or child, find something new.

Grandparents can use this time together to show an interest in their grandchild’s life – listening, asking questions, offering love and encouragement. This is not an opportunity to give advice or opinions – that is the role of parents. Kids will be much more likely to open up about important topics if they see their grandparents as nonjudgmental figures without criticism. Grandparents can also take advantage of technology and social media to connect with their teen grandchild, including texting, video chatting and becoming online ‘friends.’ They can embrace the chance to enter their grandchild’s world in a way that may not be natural to them, but is a fundamental part of the teen’s life.


Black and Blue: On Being Black, Female and Depressed

Posted: September 10, 2014

The following is an excerpt from a posting by J.N. Salters on

................ It has taken me years to openly talk about living with depression and even longer to not feel guilt or shame for needing pills to feel content at best. Growing up, I was taught that black people do not suffer from mental illness. Like HIV, depression is a "white thing." For them, it may be a mental disorder, but for us, it's just a sign of weakness (and part of a long history of black people using silence and shame as survival techniques and proof of our humanity, all the while failing to acknowledge that it is these same practices that keep us in pain and oppressed). Us black people, we learn early on, come from a lineage of strength and resilience. We are Negro-spiritual singing warriors. We shall (and always do) overcome. Despite records of slave suicides and recent statistical studies which show that one black person dies by suicide every 4.5 hours in the U.S., we are taught that we do not commit suicide. Nor do we need psychotherapy or antidepressants or alternative therapies. All we need to do is hold on to our faith, learn to "get over" things, put bandages on our unhealable wounds and pretend that our problems have disappeared.

These past two or three years I have met dozens of people with depression who publicly discuss living with the mood disorder (perhaps because I am older and in graduate school, a place that some studies and many students insist drastically impairs mental health). The people in these conversations are generally white, middle to upper-middle class, and have been seeing therapists since before I even knew what therapy was. While I find comfort in these newfound networks, I am still left without people who fully grasp the combined effects of particular historical and cultural circumstances and lived experiences on psychiatric disorders, the role of gendered racism and socioeconomic status on black women's mental health, why suicide is the third leading causing of death for black people between 15 and 24 and blacks are half as likely as whites to seek treatment for serious mental illness..............

Read the full post on

Prayer Doesn’t Ease Symptoms of Anxiety-Related Disorders for Everyone, Baylor Study Finds

Posted: September 08, 2014

Whether the problem is health, enemies, poverty or difficulty with aging, “Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there,” suggested the late gospel musician Charles A. Tindley. But when it comes to easing symptoms of anxiety-related disorders, prayer doesn’t have the same effect for everybody, according to Baylor University research.

What seemed to matter more was the type of attachment the praying individual felt toward God. According to the Baylor study, those who prayed to a loving and supportive God whom they thought would be there to comfort and protect them in times of need were less likely to show symptoms of anxiety-related disorders — symptoms such as irrational worry, fear, self-consciousness, dread in social situations and obsessive-compulsive behavior — than those who prayed but did not expect God to comfort or protect them.

Read more on Read the abstract of the study — “Prayer, Attachment to God, and Symptoms of Anxiety-Related Disorders among U.S. Adults”.

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