SAMHSA Releases Five Point Plan to Improve Nation’s Mental Health in 2015

By John Lavitt 03/10/15

TREATMENT NEWS: Administrator Pamela S. Hyde has co-authored a plan to treat millions suffering from mental illness.

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As the administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Pamela S. Hyde has released a five-point plan to improve the nation’s mental health in 2015.

Together with Paolo Del Vecchio, the director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services, Hyde points out how much scientific research in the past 50 years has evolved since the implementation of the Community Mental Health Act. Like so many professionals in the treatment industry, the management team at SAMHSA expresses a classic frustration: a profound lack of funding and resources.

Despite the impressive advances, the United States seems to lack the will to invest the financial resources needed to turn these scientific advances into viable practices that actually help those in need. With one in five Americans experiencing a mental illness each year, that number is in the millions.

The authors express the need for resources in such a convincing fashion: “As a nation we continue to lack the economic and political will to put these solutions into place, despite the fact that they would greatly reduce the economic burden of mental illness; increase productivity, achievement, and independence; and improve the lives of millions of Americans and their families.”

Responding to this challenge, Hyde and Del Vecchio outline a five-point plan to improve the nation’s mental health. The five-point plan includes the following recommendations:

  1. Increase Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services: Resistance to funding such services has been consistent. Will the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act change the funding landscape?
  2. Expand the Mental Health Workforce: If you expand services, the workforce needs to grow. Effective coordinated care depends on education and training.
  3. Widen the Use of Health Information Technology: Information technologies must be used to improve the reach of services, address gaps in care, and engage new populations.
  4. Educate the Public: Negativity and discrimination continue to be an issue; the stigma of mental health and substance abuse issues must be addressed through education.
  5. Invest In Research: With PPACA, evidence-based care is highlighted and such proof can only be supported and produced through research.

Clear and direct, SAMHSA’s five-point plan can easily be adopted if the public and private sectors are willing to make the investment. Given the long-term consequences of not making such an investment, the choice, once again, seems obvious.

As the administrator of SAMHSA, Hyde has a real battle on her hands. As treatment professionals who have faced similar funding challenges, do you actually believe such choices will be made?

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.