The federal government has released a document that prioritizes a number of strategies for reducing the impact of mental illness
and substance abuse on U.S. citizens.
The strategies and action steps set forth by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are based
on public discussions and input from mental health professionals, policymakers, and people who access mental health and substance
"The strategic initiatives paper provides a clear roadmap for SAMHSA's immediate and longer-term priorities for reaching our
essential public health mission," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., in a press release announcing the initiatives.
"These initiatives are data driven, overarching in purpose, and will help SAMHSA work in an unprecedented way across health,
justice, social service, education, and other systems to improve health care services to all Americans."
All eight strategic initiatives are also specifically designed to help SAMHSA support implementation of the Patient Protection
and Affordable Care Act and the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act.
The strategic initiatives address the following areas:
Prevention of Substance Abuse, Mental Illness, and Suicide—Creating communities where individuals, families, schools, faith-based organizations, and workplaces take action to promote
mental health and reduce the likelihood of mental illness, substance abuse including tobacco, and suicide. This initiative
will include a focus on the nation's high-risk youth, youth in tribal communities, and military families.
Trauma and Justice—Reducing the pervasive, harmful, and costly impact of violence and trauma by integrating evidence-based approaches throughout
general health, mental health, and related systems and addressing the mental health needs of people involved in or at risk
of involvement in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
Military Families—Supporting America's service men and women—active duty, National Guard, Reservists, and veterans—together with their families
and communities by leading efforts to ensure that mental health services are accessible and that outcomes are positive.
Recovery Support—Partnering with people in recovery from mental and substance use disorders and their family members to guide the mental health
system and promote approaches that foster health and resilience; increase permanent housing, employment, education, and other
necessary supports; and reduce discriminatory barriers.
Health Reform—Increasing access to high-quality prevention, treatment, and recovery services; reducing disparities that currently exist
between the availability of services for mental and substance use disorders compared with the availability of services for
other medical conditions; and supporting integrated, coordinated care, especially for people with behavioral health and other
co-occurring health conditions such as HIV/AIDS.
Health Information Technology—Ensuring that the mental health system, including state programs, community providers, and peer and prevention specialists,
fully participates with the general health care delivery system in the adoption of health information technology and electronic
Data, Outcomes, and Quality—Achieving an integrated data strategy and a national framework for quality improvement in mental health care that will guide
policy, measure program impact, and lead to improved quality of services and outcomes for individuals, families, and communities.
Public Awareness and Support—Increasing the understanding of mental and substance use disorders and the many pathways to recovery to achieve the full
potential of prevention, help people recognize mental and substance use disorders, seek assistance with the same urgency as
any other health condition, and make recovery the expectation.
The strategic initiative paper is designed to be a "living document" that can be adapted to changing conditions and needs
over time. The authors did not call for additional funding to achieve the proposed objectives but noted that current priorities
could be shifted to those outlined above. "State budgets are shrinking," they observed, "and fiscal restraint is a top priority."
"Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA's Roles and Actions 2011-2014" is posted at <http://store.samhsa.gov/product/SMA11-4629>.