Happy New Year! By now, the hustle and bustle and stress of the holiday season is behind us. You have probably spent weeks shopping, gift-giving, and visiting with friends and family – mostly time spent focusing on everyone else. Now, with the New Year upon us, it is time to focus on you. As we think of New Year’s resolutions, we naturally reflect on how we can better ourselves and contemplate changes to make that happen.
This year, “Talk. They Hear You.”® celebrates its 10th anniversary. SAMHSA’s national prevention campaign helps parents and caregivers, educators, and community members get informed, be prepared, and take action to prevent underage drinking and other substance use.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health issues, like anxiety and depression, increased for many individuals, especially for persons of color. According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than five million (17.3 percent) African American adults reported having a mental illness. Among those with a mental illness, 1.4 million (27 percent) had a serious mental illness. A serious mental illness is a mental illness that impacts an individual’s ability to function.
Over 582,000 individuals across the country were experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2022. The Point-in-Time (PIT) census is a count of sheltered and unsheltered individuals experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. The PIT count is valuable in quantifying homelessness, identifying year-over-year trends, and supporting policy development.
Our hearts go out to all experiencing loss and grief from the tragic mass shootings and other forms of community violence from Buffalo, NY to Uvalde, TX and in many other locations across our nation.
As the heat of the summer reaches its peak, and (hopefully soon) gives way to the cooler autumn breezes, it’s time for children and youth to return to school. This transition — filled with excitement, anticipation, and some natural apprehension — is an annual ritual for millions of students across our nation. As we prepare for the new academic year, it's crucial to remember that school readiness isn't just about having the right supplies, it's also about mental health.
The lives of American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) are a mystery to many. This is largely the result of stereotypes about their look or whereabouts and overall neglect in American society, as evidenced by Tribal citizens being the most undercounted group on the U.S. Census. Despite this, Native Americans are very much ingrained in American culture. Examples include U.S.
February is Cancer Prevention Month and Heart Health Month. Many people are aware of risks (such as tobacco, unhealthy foods and beverages, and lack of exercise) for cancer and heart disease. Do you also know about the risks posed by alcohol?
Earlier this week, we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.’s birthday which has become a “day of service to your community,” and in that spirit, we would like to share an urgent call to action.
Coping with community violence has become more complicated since the onset of COVID-19. There has been a steady increase in mass violence in our country, with data from the CDC showing a 35% increase in gun homicides between 2019 and 2022 alone.1 This increase in mass violence can take a toll on our collective mental health2, 3, which is only compounded by the ever-present effects of COVID-19 and the associated loss of loved ones.
Tyler’s Journey Through the Criminal Legal System
“He’s dead, David. He’s dead. He’s dead.”
Those frantic, dreadful words echoed through my mind, on repeat.
‘David’—that is me. ‘He’—that’s my friend, Tyler. Or I should say ‘was,’ as of September 5, 2023.
Internet access is increasingly recognized as a “super determinant” of health.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is joining our federal partner agencies in raising awareness of domestic violence (also known as intimate partner violence) throughout our nation. We are committed to addressing domestic violence prevention, treatment and recovery for survivors.
The Britannica Dictionary defines pride as “a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people.” There is no doubt that for people to achieve wellbeing and thrive, individuals must respect themselves and be respected by others. When one does not respect oneself or does not feel respected by others, their behavioral health is impacted.
In the field of behavioral health, words are often our primary tools. We don’t have hammers and saws, thermometers and stethoscopes, or brushes and palettes. Words are powerful tools and using them with intention is central to our craft.
Mother’s Day: a day to celebrate the mothers in our lives, the one who gave birth to us, the one who adopted us, the one we picked to be our mother or who volunteered to step up for the role because ours was not available to us, an aunt, a grandmother, friend, or foster mother.
On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. Considered one of the most sweeping and comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation ever passed, it “prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life….
“Twenty-five years ago, we did not dream that people might someday be able to actually recover from mental illnesses,” Mrs. Carter stated in 2003. “Today it is a very real possibility. For one who has worked on mental health issues as long as I have this is a miraculous development and an answer to my prayers.”
We mourn the recent loss of former First Lady and humanitarian Rosalynn Carter. For nearly 50 years, she provided unparalleled national leadership focused on improving the lives of people with mental health conditions.
Every August, SAMHSA commemorates Overdose Awareness Week (August 27 to September 2, 2023) and International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31, 2023) to remember the individuals, families, and communities who have all been impacted by overdose. According to the latest provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 110,000 lives were lost to overdose in the 12-months ending in March 2023, with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids as the main drivers of these deaths.
National Suicide Prevention Month is a time to remember the lives lost to suicide, support those who are experiencing or have experienced suicidal thoughts and feelings, and acknowledge the individuals, families, and communities that have been impacted by suicide loss. It is also a time to raise awareness about suicide prevention, to learn about risk factors and warning signs for suicide, reach out to friends and family members who may be struggling, and promote effective prevention efforts.
“Affirming a transgender child’s identity is one of the best things a parent, teacher, or doctor can do to help keep children from harm….” President Biden
Recent research tells us that how youth and young adults perceive harm from drugs and alcohol is often wrong. SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2020 shows that 57 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 did not think there was great harm in having five or more drinks once or twice a week. Even more concerning is that as many as 62.6 percent of those in that age group did not think it was very harmful to smoke marijuana once or twice a week.
On June 25, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), providing an unprecedented investment in mental health funding for children and families across the country.
It’s May and spring is officially here. Flowers are blooming. Kids are playing outside. Birds are chirping. For me, this time of year is often associated with growth, renewal, hope and positivity—a perfect time to kick off Mental Health Awareness Month and a perfect time to focus on our own mental health and wellness.
For many people with substance use disorders, access to care in the United States is inadequate, but for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) (PDF | 335 KB), the situation is worse.
Scanning the recent headlines of some of the nation’s major news sources provides a timely reminder that September is National Preparedness Month, a time for individuals, families, providers, organizations, and communities to focus on making a plan and getting ready for the hazards they may encounter at any time of the year.
May 10, 2011, was a beautiful spring day in Connecticut. I was idling in a traffic jam on my way home from work. Then, from the other direction, a pick-up truck going 80 miles per hour suddenly veered into my lane and struck my car head on. Just before I passed out from shock, I watched the meadows of Coventry recede in the distance as the helicopter carried my shattered body to St. Francis Hospital. I was later told that I flatlined twice on the trip.
HIV Testing is Self-care: Testing is key to ending the HIV epidemic
Monday, June 27, 2022, is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), an opportunity to emphasize and encourage HIV testing. The theme is “HIV Testing is Self-care.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once per lifetime as part of routine health care.
Take the Test & Take the Next Step: No matter how you test, no matter your test results, take the next step.
Every year, on June 27, we observe National HIV Testing Day, which gives us the opportunity to emphasize and encourage the importance of HIV testing as an empowering first step in choosing options to stay healthy regardless of the test result.
Observed annually on December 1st since 1988, World AIDS Day gives us the opportunity to commemorate those we have lost due to AIDS-related illnesses. It also gives us the opportunity to honor the more than 38 million individuals living with HIV around the world. This year, we observe World AIDS Day in the context of our ongoing response to COVID-19 and monkeypox, which disproportionately impact many of the same communities most affected by HIV/AIDS. The U.S.
August 31, 2022, is International Overdose Awareness Day, and we pause to honor those who have died from an overdose and to reflect on the grief of those they left behind. Many continue to live with the stigma associated with having a close family or friend die from an overdose.
In October, we observe Youth Substance Use Prevention Month and Substance Misuse Prevention Month. As we kick off Prevention Month, let’s take a moment to celebrate all that we’ve accomplished together, as well as recommit ourselves to the important work that lies ahead. Everyone has a role to play in prevention.
In August of this year, the Office of Recovery and the Office of Tribal Affairs and Policy jointly hosted a Tribal Recovery Summit in Dallas, TX, partnering with SAMHSA’s Region 6 Office. The focus of this Summit was to showcase pathways to recovery and highlights multiple ways to support American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Tribes on the frontlines of the opioid/fentanyl crisis. Nearly 300 participants attended the Summit either virtually or in person, including Tribal leaders, federal agency staff and leaders, service providers, and practitioners.
National Suicide Prevention Month is upon us again. This month represents hope: hope as we create more awareness around suicide; hope found in the resources available; and hope as we see the stigma around addressing suicide decrease. This month also can represent pain for those who have been touched by suicide. Whatever you are feeling this September, there are things you can do to create hope in your family and your community.
Veterans Day is a time to honor those who have served in our nation’s military. Veterans have unique experiences that are part of the collective culture of military service. Service members are trained to prioritize accomplishing a mission first. In or out of uniform, some former service members might not feel comfortable and safe prioritizing their behavioral health and reaching out for support.
May is recognized as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. In May, many events and activities are planned to celebrate the history, achievements, and contributions of AANHPI communities, while other events aim to raise awareness of mental health to individuals and communities. SAMHSA regularly brings together both observances in its everyday work to advance behavioral health equity for AANHPIs.
Although often associated with combat veterans, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can impact any person of any age after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Such traumatic events might include military combat, sexual or physical violence, natural disasters, or severe accidents.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, older adults (age 65 and over) represented 16 percent of the total U.S. population in 2019. And in 2020, older adults ages 50 to 85+ accounted for 19,968 deaths for a crude rate of 16.86 per 100,000 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System. Recognizing this population is disproportionately affected, it’s critical that we address suicide prevention in this group of Americans.
Migration and Mental Health
On Veterans Day, we set aside time to honor the contributions of those who have served. Throughout our nation’s history, millions of Americans have answered the call to uniformed service, and they often continue to lead in their communities once they are out of uniform. Every year, approximately 200,000 men and women transition out of active-duty service and return to civilian life.
In the 2003 holiday movie classic, “Elf,” the main character, Buddy, shares a particular fondness for the holiday season, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” No matter what traditions you celebrate this winter, not everyone shares Buddy’s enthusiasm for this season. While the holidays can be a time of celebration and joy for many, it also can be a period of stress, sadness, and loneliness for others—and sometimes can be particularly difficult for people living with mental health and substance use conditions.
During the holiday season, many of us look forward to get-togethers with friends and family. Unfortunately, holidays can also be a dangerous time for alcohol- and drug-related traffic incidents. SAMHSA is observing National Impaired Driving Prevention Month in December to raise awareness of this deadly yet preventable problem.
According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), nearly eight million (18.4 percent) Hispanic/Latino adults reported having a mental illness. Among those with a mental illness, 1.9 million (24.4 percent) had a serious mental illness, or a mental illness that impacted their ability to function.
World AIDS Day provides a yearly call to action for us to work collaboratively to end the HIV epidemic in the United States and worldwide.