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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Alcohol continues to be the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth. Recognizing the power of community to raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of underage alcohol use and mobilize local action to prevent underage drinking, SAMHSA supports the Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking initiative. This round of Communities Talk events will launch in January 2019.
Treatment for opioid use disorder is a process that should be carefully managed by a patient and their health care team. This is especially true for women who are pregnant or have newborn children. Fortunately, medication-assisted treatment can be provided during pregnancy and after childbirth and this is often the safest treatment with the best outcome for baby and mother. To assist patients and care provides with learning about options and planning the treatment that is best for other and baby, SAMHSA has published Healthy Pregnancy Healthy Baby fact sheets.
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.
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.