News & Announcements

Open Enrollment Period for 2018 Health Insurance is November 1 to December 15, 2017

Posted: September 11, 2017

Get ready to apply for health insurance coverage! Open enrollment for 2018 runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017. This is a shorter enrollment period than in previous years. Open Enrollment is the yearly period when people can enroll in a health insurance plan

Over the pasts few years, SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) has developed materials to help uninsured individuals better understand what health insurance is, how to get it and how to use it. OBHE focused on reaching diverse racial and ethnic populations so some of the materials are in Spanish, French Creole, Chinese (Mandarin), Korean and Vietnamese. 

Please share these tools with your colleagues and community organizations  to ensure that uninsured racial and ethnic minority populations get support to enroll in public or commercial health insurance plans. 

You don’t have to wait until November 1 to start getting the information you need to make the right choice of an insurance plan. Here are some ways to get started:

  1. A Roadmap to Behavioral Health: A Guide to Using Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services 2017 (pdf). This is a companion guide to the Coverage to Care (C2C) Roadmap issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The C2C initiative explains what health insurance is, the steps to enroll in Medicaid or a commercial/private insurance plan, and how to get health care services. The behavioral health companion guide describes what behavioral health coverage involves and how to get treatment for mental and substance use conditions. Understanding health insurance can be a bit overwhelming and confusing at first; hopefully these “roadmaps” will reduce some confusion.
  2. The Basics of Health Insurance: This is a suite of videos discussing the basics of health insurance and how it works. These videos are geared to different populations groups:
    1. Video: Health Insurance: How Do I Get It, Pay for It and Use It? (30:45)  
      1.  Slide deck with speaker notes (PDF | 9 MB)
      2.  Video: Chinese (Mandarin) (25:43)
      3.  Video: French Creole (22:12)
      4.  Video: Korean (23:20)
      5.  Video: Spanish (26:00)
      6.  Video: Vietnamese (38:52)
  3. Challenges and Best Practices in Outreach and Enrollment. This is a suite of videos and power point slide-decks with strategies for outreaching and enrolling uninsured minority populations.
    1. Video: ACA Outreach & Enrollment in Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities: Promising Practices (47:13)
    2. Video: Affordable Care Act Outreach and Enrollment: Lessons Learned and Next Steps for Urban Indian Populations (49:58)
    3. Video: Persistent Barriers for Latino Enrollment Through the Affordable Care Act (51:20)
    4. Video: The ABC’s about the Impact of Literacy on Affordable Care Act Efforts in the Black Community (1:40:27)
  4. If you are an immigrant or refugee, there are some other things you need to know about eligibility.
    1. Video: What Immigrants and Refugees Need to Know about the Affordable Care Act (23:43)
    2. Slide deck (PDF | 7 MB)
    3. Slide deck with speaker notes (PDF | 6 MB)
    4. Video: Chinese (Mandarin) (19:14)
    5. Video: French Creole (18:42)
    6. Video: Korean (18:54)
    7. Video: Spanish (21:58)
    8. Video: Vietnamese (32:08)
  5. Understanding Medicaid and Behavioral Health
    1. Medicaid: The Basics

These materials have been developed and updated over the past three years. We hope these will be helpful in navigating the upcoming open enrollment period. For more information go to: https://www.samhsa.gov/behavioral-health-equity/resources.

We are trending in the right direction. Let’s continue to reduce the number of uninsured people and give all communities the opportunity for good health, good behavioral health, and thriving healthy lives!



National Day of Prayer for Faith, Hope, and Life (September 8-10)

Posted: September 10, 2017

September is the month when those of us who work in suicide prevention make a special effort to reach out and remind the public of the toll that suicide takes on our families, communities, nation, and world. This year, the second weekend in September (September 8-10) has been designated a National Day of Prayer for Faith, Hope, & Life. This observance is an initiative of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Faith Communities Task Force. It is part of their Faith.Hope.Life Campaign, which asks faith communities in the United States, regardless of creed, to focus one Sabbath each year on preventing suicide.

Read more on ActionAllianceForSuicidePrevention.org.



Suicide Prevention Month: Tools, Stories, and Information to Inspire Change

Posted: September 08, 2017

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10. To those in the healthcare community and countless mental health and substance abuse allies, suicide prevention is a year-round mission. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans and among the top five causes of death for those ages 10 to 54.

Fortunately, numerous federal, state, and local public and private agencies are working to reduce suicide deaths and detect warning signs sooner.  We have recognized the importance of screening, early and regularly, for suicide and mood changes outside of strictly behavioral health settings with a focus on prevention. 

As agents of care, whether as administrators, clinicians, or caregivers, valuable resources exist to guide our prevention efforts.

  • The Center for Integrated Health Solutions offers practical tools, trainings, and information regarding suicide prevention, and a resource compilation on suicide prevention in primary care
  • The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) offers a substantial compendium of resources and trainings surrounding suicide prevention. SPRC’s Zero Suicide program offers toolkits designed to help assess an organization’s readiness and ability to impact suicide, and specific training and development strategies to provide safer prevention-informed care. 
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) is available 24/7 to provide confidential support for individuals in crisis, as well as concerned family and loved ones. The Lifeline also offers information to professionals in their efforts to help others. Lifeline report data is also available to help identify state-based call volume trends as recently as the past year, providing up-to-date information to supplement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) information. 
  • Admission and discharge transitions pose a particularly heightened period of risk for patients with suicide ideation. A toolkit for comprehensive care transitions incorporating the Zero Suicide approach can be found here.  An Emergency Department Discharge Planning Checklist and Discharge Decision Support Tool are two quick reference guides available here.  
  • Clinics and health centers should also consider incorporating suicide screening into Electronic Health Records (EHR) to standardize and routinize assessment. Here, Virna Little speaks about how this EHR modification has been implemented at the Institute for Family Health. 
  • Mental Health First Aid is an evidence-based public education program that teaches lay-people and professionals how to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression, suicide risk, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, and substance use disorders. Through its interactive action plan, participants in the course learn how to provide comfort, de-escalate crisis, refer to professional help, and suggest self-help strategies to individuals in need. 
  • Suicide Safe is a free suicide prevention app from SAMHSA for providers integrating suicide prevention into their practice. The app is based on SAMHSA’s Suicide Assessment Five-Step Evaluation (SAFE-T) card, available here
  • The Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) and the PHQ-9, both of which are available in numerous language versions, are two additional well-validated assessment tools. 
  • Stories of Hope and Recovery is a free video guide featuring survivors of suicide attempts who share their stories of recovery and messages of hope. Perspectives from family members are also offered.
  • Vicarious traumatization, or the effects of exposure to the traumatic experiences of other people, and direct exposure to client suicide, can be a serious occupational hazard in healthcare. The U.S. Office of Justice Programs offers a Vicarious Trauma Toolkit designed to assess and manage the effects of trauma exposure. The American Association of Suicidology also offers information for survivors of suicide attempts, clinicians who have lost patients or family members to suicide, and individuals who have lost loved ones to suicide.

Read more on Integration.SAMHSA.gov.



Give an Hour™ Offers Free Mental Health Services in Response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas

Posted: September 07, 2017

Give an Hour™ a national nonprofit  501 (c)(3), founded in September 2005, announces that it is opening its network to provide immediate and long term mental health support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Give an Hour will extend these services to those affected by Hurricane Irma should the need arise. 

As the flood waters begin to recede in Hurricane Harvey’s wake, Give an Hour is partnering with the American Red Cross to bring mental health and emotional support services to those affected. While some people will be in immediate need of intensive mental health treatment, many more people will be in need of someone who can provide emotional support and assistance. As our nation closely watches the approach of Hurricane Irma, Give an Hour stands ready to help those affected by this massive storm as well. 

“Give an Hour is proud to partner with the American Red Cross to provide this essential mental health support and we are grateful to our network of 7000 generous mental health professionals – many of whom are already stepping up during this time of need”, said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, Founder and President of Give an Hour. “Some Give an Hour providers may join efforts on the ground  – others in our vast network will offer phone support to the thousands who need their compassion, expertise and assistance. We all have gifts to give to those who are hurting.” Since 2005, Give an Hour has provided free and confidential mental health care to those who serve, our veterans, and their families – providing over 224,000 hours of free care valued at nearly $23M.  Give an Hour has since expanded efforts to address the mental health needs of other populations. 

Read more on BusinessInsider.com.



NNED Partner of the Month

Posted: September 01, 2017

In order to highlight pockets of excellence across the country the NNED selects an organization to highlight once a month. Didi Hirsch has been selected as the Partner of the Month for September in honor of National Suicide Prevention Month.

Didi Hirsch transforms lives by providing quality mental health and substance abuse services in communities where stigma or poverty limit access. From 11 sites and in nearly 100 schools, the agency helps almost 100,000 adults and children throughout Southern California each year. Its Suicide Prevention Center - the first in the nation to provide 24/7 crisis counseling - receives over 80,000 calls on its Crisis Line annually and provides support groups for people who have lost loved ones to suicide or have attempted it.

The agency's Suicide Prevention Center's Crisis Line has language capabilities in Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Learn more about their Crisis Line services.

View a list of previous NNED Partners of the Month here.



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