According to data from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 4.0 percent of American adults have a serious mental illness. This includes people diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depressive disorders, and other illnesses that have been classified as serious. To help improve the lives of people living with a serious mental illness, SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) is strengthening and expanding its support for mental health treatment and recovery.
Thanks to President Obama’s leadership and commitment to improving the nation’s mental health, and with the additional support of Congress, CMHS has received increased funding this year to build on existing programs and create new ones to improve access to prevention, treatment, and recovery tools for Americans with mental illness.
The new Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) Grant Program for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness will help implement and evaluate services for people who have been ordered to participate in outpatient mental health treatment. Up to 15 grants of up to $1 million each will be awarded.
The Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma grants help communities that have recently faced civil unrest to assist high-risk youth and families who have experienced trauma because of these incidents. Eligible communities have experienced demonstrations of mass protest and mobilization, civil disobedience, community harm, or disruption. Up to 11 grants of up to $1 million each will be awarded.
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States are now required to set aside 10 percent of their Community Mental Health Services Block Grant to support evidence-based treatment and prevention practices for people in the early stages of serious mental illness, particularly psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. Previously 5 percent of the block grant was required to be set aside. Now, with additional funding, states can increase their services for those experiencing a first episode of psychosis without reducing other services. The National Institute of Mental Health has evaluated early intervention programs like Coordinated Specialty Care and found them to be effective.
The Cooperative Agreements for Tribal Behavioral Health program, also known as Native Connections, is intended to prevent and reduce suicidal behavior and substance abuse, reduce the impact of trauma, and promote mental health among American Indian/Alaska Native people ages 24 and younger. Up to 94 grants of up to $200,000 each will be awarded.
This fiscal year, CMHS will spend over 75 percent of its budget on helping people with serious mental illnesses lead healthier, more productive lives. In addition to grants mentioned above, states rely on the Mental Health Block Grants to provide a crucial safety net for people with serious mental illnesses. SAMHSA’s also funds specialized programs that target people experiencing homelessness focus on people with serious mental illnesses.
CMHS is convening a series of mental illness treatment expert panels with federal partners to review and report on the most recent science on effective, evidence-based treatment. There are a wide range of treatment and recovery support service options available that can greatly improve the mental health, and well-being of individuals with serious mental illnesses. The panels’ findings will be shared on SAMHSA’s website to increase public understanding of treatment options.
The new CMHS initiatives will make a huge impact in communities nationwide, particularly for people with serious mental illnesses and their loved ones. However, we must continue to work together to help people in need. By making treatment and support available to people who need them, we can improve our nation’s health and wellbeing.