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The mission of the Indian Health Service is to raise the health status of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people to the highest level possible.

The mission of DBH is the following:

  • To act as the primary source of national advocacy, national policy development, management, and administration of behavioral health initiatives, mental health, alcohol and substance abuse, telebehavioral health, and family violence prevention programs for Indian Health Service federal facilities;
  • To coordinate American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) community behavioral health programs including alcohol/substance abuse prevention and treatment, mental health including social work and other licensed professional providers.
  • To manage, develop, and coordinate comprehensive clinical, preventive, and community-based programs for mental health and alcohol and substance abuse for IHS, Tribes and Tribal organizations (T/TOs) and Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) (collectively “I/T/U”);
  • To develop and implement IHS guidelines, standards, policies, and procedures for professional and program standards related to behavioral health services;
  • To monitor, measure, and evaluate the quality of behavioral health programs;
  • To coordinate behavioral health professional staff recruitment, resources, technical assistance and training needs;
  • To develop, administer, and monitor behavioral health grants to T/TOs and UIOs in collaboration with the Division of Grants Management;
  • To develop and monitor contracts with vendors and organizations to meet behavioral health needs;
  • To develop and disseminate IHS behavioral health program information and materials to I/T/Us;
  • To partner with I/T/Us on the evaluation of health outcomes of clinical and community behavioral health services;
  • To develop, coordinate, and maintain public/private professional partnerships with national, regional, state, local organizations and T/TOs and UIOs to promote training, resources, and technical assistance;
  • To develop and maintain partnerships with federal agencies to promote the coordination and collaboration of federal behavioral health resources for the benefit of the AI/AN population;
  • To manage direct behavioral health services provided through the TeleBehavioral Health Center of Excellence;
  • To provide continuing education on current and pressing behavioral health clinical issues to health care providers;
  • And to provide resources and programmatic oversight for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act through programs such as the Indian Children’s Program that focus on autism spectrum disorders, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and other neurobiological disorders.

In 2011, IHS published a behavioral health strategic plan and a briefing book detailing goals and objectives for dealing with suicide, alcoholism, substance abuse, and other behavioral health issues in Indian Country, renewing IHS partnerships with Tribes, forming collaborations with other agencies and organizations, reforming IHS along with emerging national health care laws, and improving access to and quality of care.

IHS's Behavioral Health fact sheet page contains overview information on the program and is also available to download in PDF format.

The latest communication from the IHS Director is available on the IHS Director's Blog page. Dear Tribal Leader Letters (DTLL) are available on the Tribal Leaders Letters page.