In 1976 President Gerald Ford honored the contributions of black Americans by issuing a proclamation that officially marked February as African American History Month. This proclamation continued to be issued by every president that followed. For the 2019 celebration, SAMHSA recognizes three leaders who have had significant impact on the mental health of their communities and beyond and have been important contributors to SAMHSA’s efforts to advance behavioral health equity for African Americans.
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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.
SAMHSA joins national organizations and hundreds of communities in observing Mental Health Awareness Month, we have more possibilities than ever before to prevent, treat, and promote recovery from mental illness. The President and this Administration have made behavioral health a primary focus of its public health efforts, particularly opioid addiction and serious mental illness (SMI). I hope that you will join us in our efforts.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.