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By: Neeraj Gandotra, M.D., Chief Medical Officer

On World AIDS day, SAMHSA is privileged to work with our federal, state, and local partners in our collective effort in Ending the HIV Epidemic. SAMHSA’s role in this effort is critical as the link between mental and substance use disorders and HIV is prominent. Addressing the mental and substance use disorders of individuals is critical in addressing the eradication of HIV.

By: Roslyn Holliday Moore, Public Health Analyst, and Victoria Chau, Public Health Analyst, SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity

By: Johnnetta Davis-Joyce, M.A., Director, SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention 

By: Victoria Chau, Public Health Analyst, SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity and Roslyn Holliday-Moore, Public Health Analyst, SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing population in the United States, representing numerous cultures, histories, languages and socio-demographic characteristics. While recognizably diverse, Asian and Pacific Islanders are not so different when it comes to their attitudes about mental health. Stigma associated with mental health problems is common in Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Shaming related to mental health problems is a cultural norm in some Asian communities, leading many who have mental health problems to avoid seeking help despite the need. 

By: Anita Everett, M.D., DFAPA, Director, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services

Our population is aging. Approximately 75 million Americans will be over age 65 by 2030.  Additionally, a 2012 study from the Institute on Medicine found that approximately one in five older adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness, substance use disorder, or both.  That ratio, should it still exist in 2030, equates to approximately 15 million people.
 

By: Elinore F. McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use

This week marks the first full week of Mental Health Awareness Month.  I am pleased to share that we have started this week with SAMHSA’s 14th Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The focus of this event was on suicide prevention in our youth.  We chose to focus on this issue because of the disturbing and unacceptable rate of suicide in young Americans. Suicide is one of the ten leading causes of death in the United States and the numbers who die by suicide have only increased in recent years. The rate of youth suicide increased by 49% from 9.7 per 100,000 in 2007 to 14.5 per 100,000 in 2017. 

By: Anita Everett, M.D., DFAPA, Director, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services

By: Elinore F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use

I write this today not to provide a listing of programs that my agency has funded nor an update on how we are doing in addressing the opioid crisis. I write this as a physician seeking the help of my fellow physicians and healthcare colleagues around the country.

By: Anita Everett, M.D., DFAPA, Director, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services

Bipolar Disorder is a condition that includes episodes of disabling depression and periods of uncontrollable energy.  It is common for all of us to have some changes in mood; Bipolar Disorder however is a brain disorder that includes extreme depression and periods of mania. Symptoms of the disease can vary, but it is important to know that this disorder can be treated with mood stabilizing medication as a foundation. Psychotherapy is often an important component of full recovery and ability to manage the illness over time.  

By: Roslyn Holliday-Moore, Public Health Analyst, SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity and Victoria Chau, Public Health Analyst, SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity

By Luis Vasquez, LICSW, Acting Director, SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

During Alcohol Awareness Month each April, the nation takes note of the progress in reducing rates of underage drinking and celebrate the efforts of communities across the country who are working together to prevent underage alcohol use.

By: Jon Berg, M.Ed., Senior Public Health Advisor, SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

By: HIV.gov 
Cross-posted from HIV.gov Blog

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) through its Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) to support substance use treatment service delivery to racial/ethnic minority individuals at risk for or living with HIV. The grant opportunity is supported by Minority AIDS Initiative resources that are appropriated to SAMHSA.

 

By: Tammy R. Beckham, DVM, PhD, Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health
Cross-posted from HHS Viral Hepatitis Blog

Summary: 
SAMHSA chief urges grantees and partners to address infectious diseases as integral part of the response to the substance use disorders epidemic.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter sent to grantees of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) late last year, Elinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, put a spotlight on HIV and viral hepatitis – the often hidden consequences of the substance use disorder epidemic – and called on the public health and substance abuse disorders communities to strengthen coordinated efforts to address them. She stated,

By: Elinore F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data on the ten leading causes of death in the United States recently. Tragically, suicide—too often a consequence of untreated mental illness and substance use disorders, and as such a preventable condition—remains on that list as the 10th leading cause of death for adults and the second-leading cause of death in our youth.1 Suicide rates increased from 29,199 deaths in 1996 to 47,173 deaths in 2017.2

By: Anne M. Herron, M.S., Acting Director, SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

It can be overwhelming and confusing to know where to start if you need to find treatment for an alcohol or drug addiction. Addiction touches nearly everyone in some way, yet, like all health care, effective treatment must be tailored to the needs of the individual. With many addiction treatment options, finding a program that will provide the quality care you or your loved one needs to address the specific addiction issues can be challenging. These steps will help you know what to look for to find a treatment program that is high quality and tailored to your needs.

By: Luis Vasquez, LICSW, Acting Director, SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

By: Doug Tipperman, MSW, Tobacco Policy Liaison, SAMHSA Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs

By: Tammy R. Beckham, DVM, PhD, Acting Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Cross post from HIV.gov Blog

World AIDS Day is a time to reflect on those we've lost to HIV/AIDS, as well as on how much progress we've made in the national response to HIV. It's also an important opportunity to assess where we need to improve and what our next steps should be.
Our Successes
We continue to make progress toward achieving our goals of reducing new HIV infections, improving health outcomes among people living with HIV, and reducing some HIV-related disparities. Reaching these goals will require that we sustain the progress we have already made and accelerate efforts, efficiently and effectively, across HIV prevention, treatment, and care services and programs. Today, we have highly effective tools to help us continue and accelerate that trend. For example:

By: Ramon Bonzon, M.P.H., Public Health Advisor, Target Populations Branch, SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

November is National Native American Heritage Month. During this time, we celebrate and pay tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives. We also shine a spotlight on some of the unique needs of their communities and some of the health disparities they face. Health outcomes for these communities are worse than the larger U.S. population in many ways. Whether it is from a higher rate of unintentional injuries, suicide or chronic liver disease, the life expectancy of American Indian and Alaskan Natives is five and a half years less than the larger U.S. population. SAMHSA is partnering with tribes and tribal organizations to reduce health disparities and promote better overall health.

By: Cicely K. Burrows-McElwain, LSCW-C, Military and Veteran Affairs Liasion, SAMHSA's Office of Policy, Planning and Development

In or out of uniform, many service members return home to communities where they continue to lead and contribute. For some military personnel, returning home can be challenging. And the impact of deployment and trauma-related stress not only affects military members and veterans but also their families and others who may provide support.
Many military personnel fear they will experience discrimination for seeking or receiving behavioral health treatment services. Our friends, family, and neighbors may be struggling and not recognize the signs, or they may not feel comfortable asking for help.

By: Robert M. Vincent, Public Health Analyst, SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

During adolescence, young people have new life experiences and enjoy greater freedom but are also exposed to peer pressure. One result of peer pressure is that many teens experiment with alcohol and other substances. According to SAMHSA’s 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 7.4 million people ages 12 to 20 reported consuming alcohol in the past month. The data also found that – in addition to alcohol – marijuana, prescription pain relievers and cigarettes were the next three substances used most frequently by youth trying a substance for the first time.

By: Frances M. Harding, Director, SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that an estimated 6.0 million Americans aged 12 or older misused psychotherapeutic drugs (pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives) at least once in the past month.
Prescription drug misuse continues to be a major public health problem in the United States, specifically prescription pain relievers.  Misuse of prescription pain relievers represents the second most common type of illicit drug use.  Prescription drug misuse is use of a drug in any way not directed by a doctor or other prescriber. This includes:

One of the most important advances in treating serious mental illness in recent years is improving care for people experiencing a first onset of serious mental illness. We know that early phases of psychosis can be identified, and that team based coordinated specialty care treatment reduces the likelihood of long-term disability. SAMHSA’s new Early Serious […]

In a previous blog post, I wrote about crisis intervention teams and their effectiveness in improving outcomes for people experiencing a crisis due to a mental or substance use disorder. Crisis intervention teams work with law enforcement officials to recognize a person who is in crisis and safely direct them to treatment appropriate for their […]

By: Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., Director, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services

One of the most important advances in treating serious mental illness in recent years is improving care for people experiencing a first onset of serious mental illness. We know that early phases of psychosis can be identified, and that team based coordinated specialty care treatment reduces the likelihood of long-term disability. SAMHSA’s new Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator will help connect people experiencing a first onset of serious mental illness to effective care.
Similar to SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, this online tool users to search for specialty programs that treat early serious mental illness, including first episode psychosis. Each program listing includes eligibility criteria, including age range and diagnoses treated, services provided, location and contact information. This information can serve as a lifeline to people who urgently need help.

By: Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., Director, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services

Summary: After visiting tribal communities in interior Alaska, Deputy Secretary Hargan praised the quality of care at Alaska Native health facilities. A key piece to success in serving the American people involves going to them in person and hearing what is important in their lives. That was the reason that a large delegation from HHS recently […]

Mental health is central to everyone’s well-being, particularly adolescents, teens, and young adults. Our youth are active in their communities where they initiate growth, lead and contribute. However, in many cases, some young people face additional challenges that can take a toll on their well-being, including suffering from mental illness. This year, the World Health […]

By: Eric D. Hargan, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services
Cross posted from the HHS Blog

Summary: After visiting tribal communities in interior Alaska, Deputy Secretary Hargan praised the quality of care at Alaska Native health facilities.
A key piece to success in serving the American people involves going to them in person and hearing what is important in their lives. That was the reason that a large delegation from HHS recently made the trip to the interior of Alaska.
Our delegation visited with Alaska Native community leaders and families in Allakaket, Alatna, Hughes, Koyukuk, Manley, Tanana, Rampart, and Fairbanks. Through community meetings and tours of healthcare facilities, we heard about everything from the latest in Telehealth technology and medicine “vending machines” to Head Start and eldercare and the continuing challenges of clean drinking water and waste disposal.

By: Anita Everett, M.D., DFAPA, Chief Medical Officer

Mental health is central to everyone’s well-being, particularly adolescents, teens, and young adults. Our youth are active in their communities where they initiate growth, lead and contribute. However, in many cases, some young people face additional challenges that can take a toll on their well-being, including suffering from mental illness. This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen youth as the focus of World Mental Health Day 2018 with its theme, “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.”

The opioids crisis is affecting communities across the nation. The disease of opioid use disorder does not discriminate. As the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, I believe strongly that we must do all we can to stem the tide of this crisis; however, I believe we must take measured, well-thought-out and responsible […]

By: Elinore F. McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use

The opioids crisis is affecting communities across the nation. The disease of opioid use disorder does not discriminate. As the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, I believe strongly that we must do all we can to stem the tide of this crisis; however, I believe we must take measured, well-thought-out and responsible steps to do this.
The temptation to develop seemingly quick solutions is understandable but I urge the nation to proceed instead with caution.

When individuals enter the field of healthcare, they are driven by a passion to assist others in achieving their best state of wellness. No matter their respective professional backgrounds, all health providers recognize the value of strong screening and assessments. We spend time and effort in screening to ensure that quality care can be delivered. […]

By: Elinore F. McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Secretary of Mental Health and Substance Use

When individuals enter the field of healthcare, they are driven by a passion to assist others in achieving their best state of wellness. No matter their respective professional backgrounds, all health providers recognize the value of strong screening and assessments. We spend time and effort in screening to ensure that quality care can be delivered. Ideally, care that is both person-centered and that results in individualized treatment planning that meets the needs of the unique patient.

By: Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., Director, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services

Each September 10, the International Association for Suicide Prevention sponsors World Suicide Prevention Day. Here in the United States, overall suicide rates have increased significantly since 1999 in almost every state, but suicide affects some groups far more than others. As we observe World Suicide Prevention Day, I’d like to call attention to the effect suicide has on tribal communities.
American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 15-24 die by suicide at a rate four times the overall rate for this age group. Alarmingly, these suicides often occur in clusters—multiple suicides within a social group or small community in a short time.

Each September 10, the International Association for Suicide Prevention sponsors World Suicide Prevention Day. Here in the United States, overall suicide rates have increased significantly since 1999 in almost every state, but suicide affects some groups far more than others. As we observe World Suicide Prevention Day, I’d like to call attention to the effect […]

September is National Recovery Month. We celebrate the millions of Americans who are living their lives in recovery from mental and substance use disorders and honor those who work to make recovery possible. We also take time to remember the people who have lost their lives and those who still need help. We are in […]

By: Chideha M. Ohuoha, M.D., M.P.H., CAPT (USPHS), Director, SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

September is National Recovery Month. We celebrate the millions of Americans who are living their lives in recovery from mental and substance use disorders and honor those who work to make recovery possible. We also take time to remember the people who have lost their lives and those who still need help.

Earlier this month there was news that over 90 people overdosed on synthetic marijuana laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl at a park in New Haven, Conn. Thankfully, no one died of an overdose that day due to the quick response from emergency personnel. Such stories remind us that people across the country are struggling […]

By: Chideha M. Ohuoha, M.D., M.P.H., CAPT (USPHS), Director, SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

Earlier this month there was news that over 90 people overdosed on synthetic marijuana laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl at a park in New Haven, Conn. Thankfully, no one died of an overdose that day due to the quick response from emergency personnel. Such stories remind us that people across the country are struggling with addiction to illicit substances and opioid-based pain medications. In 2017, the lives of over 72,000 Americans ended prematurely due to overdose, which is now the leading cause of death for people under 50 years old.

As children across the country are starting their school years, their parents and guardians are taking steps to make sure they’re equipped with the needed supplies and clothes that fit. Let’s be sure to equip them with the tools to help prevent bullying. If not stopped, bullying results in real and lasting mental health effects. […]

By: Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., Director, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services

As children across the country are starting their school years, their parents and guardians are taking steps to make sure they’re equipped with the needed supplies and clothes that fit. Let’s be sure to equip them with the tools to help prevent bullying. If not stopped, bullying results in real and lasting mental health effects. It is a repeated behavior that can take the form of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse. It is often based on the imbalance of power such as physical strength, popularity, or holding hurtful information. In fact, many children and adolescents are hesitant to talk about being bullied or to acknowledge that they are bullying others. SAMHSA is working to educate young people, parents, teachers, and community leaders about what they can do to prevent bullying.

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.  Each year, SAMHSA joins the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health to promote the message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover. This month also presents an opportunity to reflect on how the behavioral health system can connect more effectively with […]

By: Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., Director, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.  Each year, SAMHSA joins the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health to promote the message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover. This month also presents an opportunity to reflect on how the behavioral health system can connect more effectively with people across different cultural backgrounds and experiences. Data from our National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that members of racial and ethnic minority groups are significantly less likely to receive services for any mental illness, than are non-Hispanic whites. In order to close the treatment gap and eliminate health disparities, SAMHSA works to help connect people who need these services the most.

Each June, SAMHSA works with National Center for PTSD in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to raise awareness of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD refers to a mental health condition that some people develop after witnessing or experiencing a life-threatening or unusually violent event. Although PTSD is often associated with military combat, it can […]

By: Paolo del Vecchio, M.S.W., Director, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services

Each June, SAMHSA works with National Center for PTSD in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to raise awareness of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD refers to a mental health condition that some people develop after witnessing or experiencing a life-threatening or unusually violent event. Although PTSD is often associated with military combat, it can have many causes, including domestic violence, abuse or neglect, sexual assault, accidental injury or natural disasters.
Recent headlines highlight the need to understand what PTSD is and how people can get help. Natural disasters like hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, wildfires and flooding can have a lasting impact on those who are forced to flee nature’s path. We also know that exposure to violence can have a traumatic effect, even on those who escape physical harm.

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