As a result of the Fiscal Year 2014 “Consolidated Appropriations Act” (P.L. 113-76), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will provide expanded help to meet the mental health needs of individuals, families and communities across the nation. The $276 million additional funding above the FY13 post-sequestration level will enable SAMHSA to better address the mental health needs of the nation’s children and young people – including those most at risk for serious mental illnesses.
“At the White House National Conference on Mental Health in June 2013, President Obama stated that too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence rather than seeking help,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “This new funding will provide SAMHSA with unprecedented opportunities to implement dynamic new initiatives called for in the President’s plan, “Now is the Time,” by expanding and improving mental health services across many critical areas. It will also provide new proactive services designed to identify children with mental health conditions earlier and get the children and their families help they need as soon as possible so that they can jumpstart their recovery to healthy, productive lives.”
The “Now is the Time” initiatives that Congress provided funding for include:
- · Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) - Project AWARE will provide training for teachers and other adults who regularly interact with students and provide mental health services to youth and their families. This initiative, which would reach 750,000 young people, has two parts:
1. Create safe and supportive schools and communities: Project AWARE includes $40 million to help school districts work with law enforcement, mental health agencies, and other local organizations to implement coordinated school safety and mental health programs. This initiative builds on strategies that, for over a decade, have proven to decrease violence in schools and increase the number of students receiving mental health services.
2. Provide “Mental Health First Aid” training for teachers: Project AWARE includes $15 million for training teachers and other adults who interact with youth to detect and respond to mental illness in children and young adults, including how to encourage adolescents and families experiencing these problems to seek treatment.
- Training thousands of additional mental health professionals to serve students and young adults – Experts often cite the shortage of mental health service providers as one reason it can be hard to access treatment. To help fill this gap, SAMHSA will work with the Health Resources and Services Administration to provide $35 million to train social workers, counselors, psychologists, behavioral health paraprofessionals and other mental health professionals.
- The Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) – This program provides training to increase the number of culturally competent behavioral health professionals who provide direct mental health and substance abuse services to underserved racial and ethnic minority populations. The existing MFP program will receive an additional $5.2 million to expand training to master's level behavioral health providers committed to working with youth, including $2 million for masters’ level addictions counselors.
- Healthy Transitions – This program will provide support for people aged 16 to 25 who are at high risk for mental illness, substance abuse, and suicide in order to help prevent school shootings and other gun violence in the community. Transition-age youth with mental health conditions are less likely to receive mental health services than their peers and are at greater risk for falling through the cracks when they turn age 18. SAMHSA will help address this issue by providing $20 million in competitive grants to states that will partner with local communities to implement evidence-based practices to increase awareness, screening, detection, referrals to treatment, peer supports and coordination of care to address mental health issues among transition-age youth.
Congress also allocated $24 million more in funding for the Mental Health Block Grant to help states and territories develop programs to address early signs of serious mental illness, including psychotic disorders. SAMHSA, in collaboration with the National Institute of Mental Health will develop and disseminate guidelines for the state implementation of programs that would allow serious mental illness including psychotic disorders to be detected and effectively treated earlier.
In addition to these expanded mental health initiatives, the FY 2014 budget enacted $109 million more in funding for SAMHSA's Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant. This enhanced funding will help SAMHSA sponsor expanded substance abuse prevention and treatment programs in communities throughout the nation.
Another notable effort includes a Tribal Behavioral Health Grant program to address the suicide and related substance abuse prevention needs in tribal communities; increased funding for the Primary Behavioral Health Care Integration grant program; and Prevention and Public Health Fund dollars to enhance suicide prevention efforts including those to support the implementation of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
For further information about these or other SAMHSA programs go to: http://www.samhsa.gov/