The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is giving a $220,000 planning grant to Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation to develop programs to help people in emotional distress.
Bruce Myers, the Republican candidate for House District 32, said that he was surprised but pleased that SAMHSA, a federal program, approved the grant.
"It seems like the stars are all lined up," said Myers, who is spearheading an anti-drug program on the reservation.
SAMSHA officials were on the reservation Monday to announce the grant and to listen to tribal officials talk about the program.
As part of the presentation to SAMHSA officials, Tim Rosette, CEO of Rocky Boy's Health Board, proposed a change to the Chippewa Cree Tribal Justice Center that would allow it to begin accepting youths for inpatient treatment.
Myers said the new facility has a 20-bed area that is not being used because it does not have the proper licenses and certifications.
"It could be a regional treatment facility," Myers said. " ... It's something that is sorely lacking (at Rocky Boy)."
Myers said that sending suicidal Rocky Boy residents to Northern Montana Hospital, letting them spend the night, giving them pills and then sending them back home is not enough to help them.
Susan Hale of RJS and Associates wrote the SAMHSA grant.
"The goal is to develop a plan for children and youth with serious emotional damages," Hale said. " ... This is the first step."
Rosette said that Montana has an exceptionally high rate of suicide deaths, and this would provide treatment for people in distress.
"I believe that our kids deserve better (than they are getting)," Rosette said.