SAMHSA Releases New Strategic Plan, Requesting Comments

SAMHSA’s Executive Leadership team and staff, in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders, have released its Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation 2015-2018. This new strategic plan was informed by lessons learned from the current strategic plan released in 2010 and the evolving needs of the behavioral health field. Leading Change 2.0 outlines six key Strategic Initiatives on which SAMHSA will focus during Fiscal Years 2015-2018. These initiatives include:

·         Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness, with a focus on several high risk populations, including college students and transition age youth; ethnic minorities experiencing health and behavioral health disparities, veterans and their families, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals;

·         Health Care and Health Systems Integration, with particular emphasis on systems of importance for persons with behavioral health needs such as community health promotion, health care delivery, specialty behavioral health care, emergency care and response, and community living needs.

·         Trauma and Justice, which provides a comprehensive public health approach to addressing trauma and establishing a trauma-informed approach in health, behavioral health, human services, and related systems with the intent to reduce both the observable and less visible harmful effects of trauma and violence on children and youth, adults, families, and communities. This Strategic Initiative has an elevated focus on improving the well-being and personal recovery of individuals with mental, substance use or co-occurring disorders involved with the justice system through innovative diversion practices, strategic linkages with community-based providers and correctional health, effective re-entry programs, and policy development.

·         Recovery Support, which promotes partnering with people in recovery from mental illness and/or substance use disorders and their family members to guide the behavioral health system and promote individual, program, and system-level approaches that foster health and resilience; increase housing to support recovery; reduce barriers to employment, education, and other life goals; and secure necessary social supports in their chosen community.

·         Health Information Technology, which will help to ensure that the behavioral health system fully participates with the general healthcare delivery system in the adoption of health information technology (HIT), including interoperable electronic health records and the use of other electronic training, assessment, treatment, monitoring, and recovery support tools. In partnership with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), SAMHSA will work to promote development, dissemination, and effective use of HIT to support prevention, treatment and recovery so that the behavioral health community can benefit from these innovations.

·         Workforce Development, which will support active strategies to strengthen and expand the behavioral health workforce, including those healthcare workers not usually considered behavioral health specialists. Through technical assistance, training, partnerships, and outreach through traditional and social media, SAMHSA will promote an integrated, aligned, competent workforce that enhances the availability of prevention and treatment for substance abuse and mental illness, strengthens the capabilities of behavioral health professionals, and promotes the infrastructure of health systems to deliver competent, organized behavioral health strategies.

Each of the six initiatives includes an overarching purpose, specific goals and objectives, and measures for determining success.

SAMHSA expects this strategic plan to guide SAMHSA in its efforts to:

·         Set budget and policy priorities;

·         Manage key investments, including grants, contracts, technical assistance, and SAMHSA staff time and expertise;

·         Engage public and private partners at every level; and

·         Track and disseminate progress.

Over the coming months, SAMHSA leadership will convene discussions with internal stakeholders to consider and develop cross-agency work teams to identify more specific action steps and critical benchmark to ensure accountability for achieving their overall goals and objectives.

To view the full document, visit Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation 2015-2018.

SAMHSA is requesting feedback on its plan by August 18th. To provide your own overall thoughts and recommendations on each of the strategic initiatives, visit SAMHSA’s website here