News & Announcements

New Report on Trends in Addressing Behavioral Health Disparities (posted 6/22)

Posted: June 22, 2010

As a part of the June 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Policy Summit on the Elimination of Disparities in Mental Health Care, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services conducted a report to review recent trends related to addressing health disparities at the national and state levels. Addressing Behavioral Health Service Disparities: Current and Potential Strategies with Washington State and the National Context's focus is on documentation and assessment of the range of current and potential strategies to reduce disparities in the access to and quality of mental health services nationally and within Washington State. To download the full report click here.

The report provides a summary of national trends on strategies to eliminate disparities in behavioral health care, a summary of state-level trends within Washington State, and a set of policy recommendations to continue to address disparity reduction nationally and within Washington State. The study was unable to find any states or health plans that stand out as models for addressing health disparities. The analysis of strategies employed by Medicaid managed behavioral health organizations (MBHOs) in other states found that states and their contracted MBHOs tend to address health disparities through ongoing quality improvement activities and tailored performance improvement projects. Behavioral health plans across the nation struggle with finding an adequate number of culturally competent providers. One strategy used in several states (FL, MA, and NM, among others) involves broadening credentialing standards so that community?based organizations that would not otherwise currently qualify as fully credentialed network providers would be allowed to participate under specific conditions. Additionally, the emerging national focus on integrated primary care and behavioral health care has necessitated a reconceptualization of the historical target populations and associated documentation and service delivery requirements of behavioral health systems.

Based on these findings, the authors make recommendations including: shifting from a regulatory approach to a system?level approach (i.e. quality improvement methods); documenting current system capacity to address disparities, such as provider?level cultural competency plans, training, and general clinician competency; employing non?professionals and community members as cultural brokers; providing access to population?specific evidence?based practices; and using data reporting to document existing disparities and measure change over time. To download the full report click here.

State-specific Study of Attitudes Toward Mental Illness (posted 6/22)

Posted: June 22, 2010

The May 28, 2010 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report presented the findings of a state-specific study on Attitudes Toward Mental Illness. The study sought to assess attitudes related to the course of mental illness (i.e., treatment prognosis and possibility of recovery; and perception of supportive behaviors) that might directly influence seeking treatment or recovery and might reflect stigmatizing attitudes amenable to public health intervention. To study such attitudes, the Centers for Disease Control analyzed data from the District of Columbia (DC), Puerto Rico, and the 35 states participating in the 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) (the most recent data available), which included two questions on attitudes toward mental illness. Most adults (88.6%) agreed with a statement that treatment can help persons with mental illness lead normal lives, but fewer (57.3%) agreed with a statement that people are generally caring and sympathetic to persons with mental illness. Responses to these questions differed by age, sex, race/ethnicity, and education level. Although most adults with mental health symptoms (77.6%) agreed that treatment can help persons with mental illness lead normal lives, fewer persons with symptoms (24.6%) believed that people are caring and sympathetic to persons with mental illness. To read the full report click here.

These results have public health implications because adverse attitudes about mental illness can lead to stigmatization of persons with mental illness. In addition, the results have implications for mental health treatment because adults who do not believe in the effectiveness of mental illness treatment might be less likely to seek treatment when needed. Also, persons with mental health symptoms who believe that others are not caring and sympathetic toward persons with mental illness might be less likely to disclose mental health problems to friends, family members, colleagues, or other persons who could help. Some of the adverse attitudes indicated in this report might be caused by stigma experienced by some respondents (e.g., those with mental health problems who received less support at work or at home or who experienced exclusion from activities). Respondents who perceived adverse attitudes about empathy in other persons also might have had less contact with persons with mental illness, or also might harbor misconceptions about the risks associated with mental illness symptoms.

Are You Ready for National Minority Mental Health Month This July? (posted 6/17)

Posted: June 17, 2010

Help to celebrate Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month this July by raising awareness about mental health issues in minority communities.  In May 2008 the US House of Representatives proclaimed July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Albert Wynn [D-MD] and cosponsored by a large bipartisan group, was passed in recognition that:

  • Improved access to mental health treatment and services and public awareness of mental illness are of paramount importance
  • An appropriate month should be recognized as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities

Bebe Moore Campbell was an accomplished author, advocate, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles and national spokesperson, who passed away in November 2006.  It is in honor of her that this month was created.

To learn how you can plan activities in your community watch this webinar - Community Voices: Minority Mental Health. You will learn more about Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in July and how people across the nation are celebrating this month and working to raise awareness about issues surrounding minority mental health.  Through presentations from NAMI Augusta, GA; NAMI Tennessee; and the National Leadership Council on African American Behavioral Health (NLC) with NAMI Urban LA you will learn how you and your organization can implement community activities to raise awareness about minority mental health.  Through dialogue with these community leaders you will hear about strategies for organizing events during this month and how to reach out to minority populations in order to have an effective National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. To watch the video click here or scroll to the bottom of this screen.

Help to raise awareness by:


Learn what other communities have done this July by joining the next NNED Network in Action Forum Call: Celebrating Mental Health in Diverse Communities

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET

Are you ready to celebrate Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month? The NNED, in partnership with several national organizations (see list below), is pleased to offer this two part series celebrating Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (July 2010). For more information on this important month click here.

  • Part I on July 7th will focus on Latino and American Indian communities. To register click here.
  • Part II on July 28th will focus on Asian American and African American communities. To register click here.

These two webinars will highlight the ways communities across the country are celebrating minority mental health in honor of Bebe Moore Campbell.  To learn about this important month and see how your community can celebrate minority mental health this year and in future years join these two webinars!

*** This webinar is offered in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Multicultural Action Center, National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, National Latino Behavioral Health Association, First Nations Behavioral Health Association, National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, and the Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health. ***

Study on Feasibility of an AI/AN Suicide Prevention Hotline (posted 6/17)

Posted: June 17, 2010

At the request of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation conducted a study intended to inform a SAMHSA/National Suicide Prevention Lifeline pilot project entitled Lifeline Native American Community Liaison Initiative, Suicide Prevention Resource Center reports. The study consists of a literature review and telephone discussions with 13 respondents working in the area of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) suicide prevention. Although the literature review did not identify studies of AI/AN suicide prevention hotlines, evaluations of non-hotline suicide prevention programs have indicated that AI/ANs prefer helpers of their own background who are able to address key cultural factors unique to AI/ANs. Experts participating in the telephone discussions felt that an AI/AN hotline would be used if the service provided appropriate resource information, included a local and national public awareness component, and were implemented by culturally responsive AI/AN staff who protected confidentiality. To view the study online click here.

Transition-Age Youth Have Highest Rates of SMI, Least Likely to Receive Treatment (posted 6/16)

Posted: June 16, 2010

According to a national survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) there are an estimated 9.8 million adults aged 18 or older living with serious mental illness. Among adults, the prevalence of serious mental illness is highest in the 18 to 25 age group, yet this age group is also the least likely to receive services or counseling for mental health issues.
To help address this problem, SAMHSA and The Ad Council launched a new series of national public service announcements (PSAs) designed to encourage, educate and inspire young adults (18-25 years old) to step up and support friends and family they know are experiencing a mental health problem. The campaign aims to promote acceptance of mental health problems by encouraging, educating and inspiring young adults to step up and talk openly about mental health problems. The PSAs direct audiences to visit the campaign website,, where they can participate in a new discussion forum, find tools to help in the recovery process, learn about the different types of mental illnesses, read real-life stories about support and recovery, and to see how friends can make all the difference.
The importance of this effort is underscored by the new 2009 HealthStyles Survey, a collaborative effort by SAMHSA and Porter Novelli, which reveals that almost three-quarters (72 percent) of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 believe that a person with mental illness would improve if given treatment and support. The study, however also shows that far fewer young adults (33 percent) believe that a person can eventually recover. Other findings include:

  • Less than half (40%) of Americans believe a person with mental illness can be as successful at work as others.
  • While almost two thirds (65 percent) of young adults who know someone with a mental illness believe that treatment can help people with mental illnesses lead normal lives, only one in five (22 percent) young adults believes that people are generally caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness.

"Now more than ever we know that people can recover from mental health problems," said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Today we are getting the word out that support from friends and family can make a difference in helping people overcome these illnesses."

"Mental health problems are far too often misunderstood and sometimes friends don’t know how to help," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. "This campaign provides steps young people can take to help support their friends experiencing a mental illness."

To read the full SAMHSA Press Release click here.

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