A critical part of SAMHSA’s activities moving forward in the area of SMI is the work of the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC). Formed in 2017, the ISMICC is a new Committee, included in a law called the 21st Century Cures Act, composed of federal and non-federal members. The ISMICC is tasked with enhancing coordination across the federal government and the public, and will guide our work to improve the lives of people with SMI or at risk of SMI, as well as children affected by serious emotional disturbance (SED) and their families. This is a rare opportunity to bring together the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Labor, Justice, Defense, Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration to focus our efforts on serving those who have the greatest need. If you would like to know more about the ISMICC, including its priority areas and its public meetings, visit the ISMICC web page on the SAMHSA website.
Early intervention and prevention efforts can delay or prevent the onset of SMI and change the course of the illness. Since 2016, states have been required to use – or “set aside” – 10 percent of the funding they receive through SAMHSA’s Community Mental Health Services Block Grant to assist people experiencing a first episode of SMI. This funding helps states implement evidence-based treatments, such as the Coordinated Specialty Care approach that provides treatment, family engagement and recovery support services. We are currently accepting applications for a new initiative to identify youth and young adults at high risk for psychosis and provide evidence-based treatment to prevent the onset of SMI or lessen the severity of a psychotic disorder.
In addition to these efforts, SAMHSA is expanding funding for evidence-based treatments for adults with SMI and children with SED. Eight states are currently operating certified community behavioral health clinics (CCBHCs) to expand access to comprehensive, evidence-based care. In fiscal year 2018, $100 million in new funding is being awarded through a new CCBHC expansion grant program to community clinics. We are also accepting applications to develop or expand evidence-based Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) programs Mental Health Awareness Month is a great time to learn more about what your community and state are doing to help people affected by SMI and SED.
In addition to new grant programs, SAMHSA is also strengthening the way it providers training and technical assistance in the field of mental health treatment and recovery support services. Just last week, we posted an announcement regarding funding for Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Cooperative Agreements (MHTCC). The MHTTCs will maintain a collaborative network to support training, technical assistance, and workforce development to clinicians and others to ensure that high quality, effective mental health treatment and recovery support services, and evidence-based practices are available for all individuals with mental disorders, in particular those with SMI.
Now more than ever, Mental Health Awareness Month offers an opportunity to improve the lives of people living with SMI and their family members. I urge you to join us for several special events throughout the month to learn how we can work together to reduce the impact of substance use and mental illness on America’s communities: