SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) coordinates agency efforts to reduce behavioral health disparities for diverse populations. OBHE seeks to impact SAMHSA policy and initiatives by:
- Creating a more strategic focus on racial; ethnic; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations in SAMHSA investments
- Using a data-informed quality improvement approach to address racial and ethnic disparities in SAMHSA programs
- Building on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) attention to health disparities to influence how SAMHSA does it work, including grant-making operations and policy development
All populations will have equal access to high quality behavioral health care.
To reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on populations that experience behavioral health disparities by improving access to quality services and support that enable individuals and families to thrive, participate in and contribute to health communities.
The Office of Behavioral Health Equity was established in accordance with Section 10334 of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 Section 10334 and Section 1707A to Title XVII of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 300u et seq).
Key Policy Drivers
The Office of Behavioral Health Equity’s strategy and activities are driven by the following Federal and agency-level plans:
- HHS Secretary’s Strategic Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities outlines goals and actions HHS will take to reduce health disparities among diverse racial and ethnic populations.
- 2011 National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity provides a common set of goals and objectives for public and private sector initiatives and partnerships to help underserved racial and ethnic groups reach their full health potential.
- National Prevention Strategy focuses on prevention and wellness, including emotional health, to increase the number of Americans who are health at every stage of life.
- Section 4302 of the Affordable Care Act requires that data collection standards for race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status be used, to the extent practicable, in all national population health surveys.
- SAMHSA Strategic Initiatives will guide SAMHSA’s work through 2014, focusing resources on key issues in behavioral health. Each initiative includes specific action steps to address disparities, elevating health equity across SAMHSA’s portfolio.
- White House Minority Initiatives and Executive Orders aim to strengthen the capacity of minority-serving educational institutions to improve outcomes for their students, including addressing health and behavioral health issues.
The Office of Behavioral Health Equity’s Five Key Strategies
- The Data Strategy ensures that SAMHSA surveillance and performance data guide program planning to address behavioral health disparities.
- The Communication Strategy promotes awareness and access to information about behavioral health disparities.
- The Policy Strategy addresses relevant disparity issues and behavioral health equity by targeting these issues in SAMHSA policy and funding initiatives.
- The Quality Practice and Workforce Development Strategy creates and supports innovative, cost effective trainings that contribute to a well-trained, high quality, diverse workforce.
- The Customer Service/Technical Assistance Strategy establishes OBHE as a trusted broker of disparity-related information and experts.
Quality Practice and Workforce Development
OBHE is currently working on the following initiatives related to its quality practice and workforce development strategy.
National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health (NNED)
The NNED supports information sharing, training and technical assistance among organizations and communities dedicated to the behavioral health and well-being of diverse communities. The NNED identifies and links "pockets of excellence" in reducing disparities and promoting behavioral health equity. It strives to avoid the tendency to “reinvent the wheel.” The NNED works with network members to:
- Link community providers, organizations, research/training centers and networks in diverse communities
- Identify and link effective innovation
- Develop an infrastructure for collecting, analyzing and disseminating information, data, best practices, research, and policy
- Provide a structure for peer training and technical assistance
- Build workforce capacity through learning collaboratives and communities of practice
- Provide a virtual workspace
- For more information, please visit the NNED website .
In March, SAMHSA’s National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health (NNED) partnered with the National Latino Behavioral Health Association to convene its second annual training meeting, NNEDLearn 2012 , for behavioral health practitioners and administrators from community-based organizations serving diverse racial and ethnic minority communities. Following the meeting, these six training groups continue in virtual communities of practices for coaching and ongoing web based training over the next six months. Learn more about NNEDLearn 2012 .
Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU) Behavioral Health Institute
In collaboration with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) hosted the Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU) Behavioral Health Institute in Rapid City, SD in March 2012. The event focused on the impact of behavioral health on student retention and workforce development. The approach, modeled after SAMHSA’s work with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), engaged TCU Presidents and student leaders to develop strategies for expanding campus capacity for behavioral health services creating and promoting the behavioral health career pipeline for tribal students. TCU student leaders participated in sessions on addictions counseling certification, suicide prevention and communications strategies for health promotion. The meeting concluded with a joint session between the students and college presidents to discuss a potential behavioral health model for the campuses and to lay groundwork for future collaboration through a workgroup comprised of TCU presidents, students, AIHEC leadership, and OBHE staff.
Master Trainer Development Program (MTDP) for the Pacific Jurisdictions
SAMHSA is partnering with the Pacific Behavioral Health Collaborating Council (PBHCC) to support the Master Trainer Development Program for Pacific Jurisdictions from September 2011 - September 2012. This one year training and skill building effort is designed to develop the expertise of a set of Pacific Islander Master Trainer candidates to provide behavioral health training to their Pacific colleagues. Download MTDP Fact Sheet (Word - 25kb).