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.
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Our population is aging. Approximately 75 million Americans will be over age 65 by 2030. Additionally, in 2012, one in five older adults in the U.S. experienced a mental illness, substance use disorder, or both. That ratio, should it still exist in 2030, would equal approximately 15 million people. The growing number of older adults with mental or substance use disorders could have a tremendous impact on the healthcare needs of our nation.
HHS released the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Action Plan, required by Section 13002 of the 21st Century Cures Act.
Every day, across our country, individuals are dying from mental and substance use disorders. I returned to SAMHSA to do everything I could to ensure that American families and communities do not continue to lose their loved ones to these preventable and treatable conditions. As the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, I take very seriously my responsibility to ensure that every dollar entrusted to SAMHSA by the American public is used in the most effective manner possible.As a physician, I have seen firsthand the urgent need for funding and the programs that SAMHSA provides. I have treated many patients whose lives are dependent on the types of services SAMHSA funding generates.
Prevention & Treatment
I often found that my psychiatric practice’s patients diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder or another mental illness also were living with untreated drug or alcohol problems.
The presence of both substance abuse and mental illness is known as a co-occurring disorder. Left untreated, this condition poses a serious threat to an individual’s quality of life, including increased risk of family problems, frequent drug relapse, numerous hospitalizations, unemployment, homelessness, serious physical illness and death.
It is my pleasure to announce that Christopher M. Jones, PharmD, M.P.H., has joined SAMHSA as the first Director of the National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory. The Policy Lab was created as part of the 21st Century Cures Act and promotes innovation and the dissemination and adoption of evidence-based practices and service delivery models related to mental health and substance use, including through the evaluation of models that would benefit from further development and through expanding, replicating, or scaling evidence-based programs, policies, and practices.