SAMHSA: Transforming Mental Health Care in America - Federal Action Agenda 2005


The Federal Action Agenda: First Steps


Never in the history of America have we known so much about mental health and how to enable people with mental illnesses to live, work, learn, and participate fully in the community. Recovery from mental illness is now a realistic hope. Yet, much of what we know is not accessible to the people who need it most.

Today, we are on the threshold of achieving the promise of transforming mental health care in America. Government-Federal, State, and local-and thousands of organizations in the private sector are joining together to transform the mental health service delivery system across the Nation. While the States serve as the focus of many transformation activities, the Federal government has seized the opportunity to model collaborative activities and to support other critical participants in both the private and public sectors.

Transformation is a deep, profound, and continuous process along a continuum of innovation. It is a way of creating something possible from the perceived impossible. It implies profound change-not at the margins of a system, but at its very core. In transformation, new sources of power emerge and new competencies develop. Opportunities and challenges are looked at with a new perspective.

An unprecedented number of Federal Departments, agencies, and offices have taken the initiative to formally collaborate to transform the mental health system. The Federal Mental Health Action Agenda structures this continuing collaborative effort.

This Federal Mental Health Action Agenda is the collaborative product of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies and offices, along with five other Departments and the Social Security Administration as follows:

  • Department of Education
  • Department of Health and Human Services
    • Administration on Aging
    • Administration for Children and Families
    • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    • Health Resources and Services Administration
    • Indian Health Service
    • National Institutes of Health
    • Office for Disability
    • Office for Civil Rights
    • Office of Public Health and Science
    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Social Security Administration

In developing this document, each participating Federal Department and agency created an inventory of its current mental health activities. An additional list was created by each Federal partner outlining proposals for transforming programs and practices. From these inventories and lists of transforming activities, this first Federal Mental Health Action Agendawas developed.

Transformation requires vision, action, and accountability. The President has provided vision through his New Freedom Initiative. With this Action Agenda, the Federal agencies commit themselves to action and accountability in pursuit of this vision. Now, it is essential that others including consumer, family members, providers, payers, and policy makers continue to contribute in the extraordinary process of transforming mental health care throughout our Nation.

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File Date: 2/12/2009