The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a set of 8 new strategies to support and address the needs of patients with behavioral health disorders.
The new strategic initiatives were chosen to further improve the lives of people with mental health disorders as well as support those most at risk for developing mental health disorders. One such initiative, the Recovery Support Strategic Initiative, was designed to promote programs that foster wellness and resilience as well as increase permanent housing, employment, education, and other necessary supports for patients. The initiative also aims to improve social inclusion without fear or prejudice for people with mental illness.
Given the country’s ongoing military involvements, another of SAMHSA’s initiatives is to support active duty, reserve, and veteran military personnel and their families. As part of this initiative, SAMHSA established a veteran’s suicide prevention hotline and jail diversion and trauma recovery programs.
Other initiatives include the integration of health technology; advancement of health care reform; improved monitoring and reporting of health outcomes and data to refine existing programs; increased public awareness and support; increased access and resources to victims of man-made, natural, physical, or emotional trauma; and increased prevention and early intervention efforts.
Established by an act of Congress in 1992, SAMHSA was created as a services agency to focus attention, programs, and funding on improving the lives of people with or at risk for mental and substance abuse disorder. During the past 20 years, SAMHSA has been instrumental in developing and implementing some of the most influential mental health policies and programs. For instance, SAMHSA helped to implement the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, played a key role in the development of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, and has maintained regulatory authority for oversight of the country’s opioid addiction treatment system.
In addition to SAMHSA’s anniversary, 2012 commemorates the 125th anniversary of the passing of behavioral health pioneer Dorothea Dix. Dix dedicated her life to investigating and documenting the care of the mentally ill in the United States. Her work led to the first public mental health hospitals, and she helped to introduce the concept that recovery was possible for those with mental illness.
“Just as she pioneered these reforms, today we strive to live up to them by helping communities throughout the nation meet the needs of those who need these vital services,” Pamela S. Hyde, JD, SAMHSA Administrator, said in a press statement. “By enhancing the availability and effectiveness of behavioral health services we honor her memory and the work of all those who continue to make America a healthier and stronger nation.”
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