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.
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The week of March 26-30 is National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Health Awareness Week. At SAMHSA, this week provides the opportunity to highlight the needs of LGBT Americans with serious mental illness (SMI).Data from SAMHSA’s 2015-2016 National Survey of Drug Use and Health provides insight on the prevalence of substance use and mental disorders among lesbian, gay and bisexual adults. The data indicate that LGB adults have higher rates of mental illness when compared to all adults.
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.
Substance misuse is a major issue on college campuses. Young adults, including college students, have the highest rates of behavioral health needs and the lowest rates of help-seeking behavior.We’re confronting these problems head on. I’m pleased to share that SAMHSA has a new information kit aimed at college and university prevention practitioners, health center staff and administrators. The Behavioral Health Among College Students Information & Resource Kit—which includes fact sheets, extensive resources, PowerPoint slides, and more—supports substance misuse prevention and mental health promotion initiatives on college and university campuses.
At SAMHSA’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day event in May, I had the opportunity to speak with the event’s honorary chairperson, Reid Ewing. If you’re a fan of the television show “Modern Family,” you may recognize him as Dylan, the former boyfriend of one of the show’s main characters.
At the event, Reid bravely shared his challenges with body dysmorphic disorder and depression, and how important his family has been to his recovery.