SAMHSA Press Releases

Date: July 22, 2005
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press
Phone: 240-276-2130



Unprecedented Federal Alignment Announced to Help Provide People with Mental Illness Opportunity for Recovery



The federal government is aligning resources in an unprecedented collaborative effort to help ensure that people with mental illness have every opportunity for recovery. Six cabinet level departments – Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration have detailed 70 specific steps in a mental health action agenda released today.

“Transforming Mental Health Care in America. The Federal Action Agenda: First Steps” is the beginning of a multi-year effort to alter the form and function of the mental health system. Also announced today is the creation of a Federal Executive Steering Committee to guide the work of mental health system transformation.

In the United States, recovery from mental illness is the expectation, not the exception. Yet many people with mental illness remain untreated. They struggle with an illness that affects their minds, their feelings and their relationships with others. There are approximately 19.6 million adults aged 18 or older (9.2 percent) in the United States with serious mental illness (SMI). A similar percentage of children - about 5% to 9% - have a serious mental health problem.

“As we approach the 15 th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Action Agenda makes an important contribution for Americans with mental health-related disabilities,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “The Action Agenda details the initial steps the federal government is taking to transform the form and function of the mental health service delivery system in America. HHS and its partners across the federal government are committed to a shared goal of collaborating to fundamentally change the way the nation’s mental health care system currently functions.”

“The Action Agenda is not a ‘quick fix’ for the problems that have ailed the mental health care system for decades. It is a living document that begins to chart the course for the long term,” said Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.S.C.W., Administrator of HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which has lead in the development of the federal action agenda.

Curie continued, “The public sector is the major financial driver in mental health care and transformation is a shared responsibility. Federal agencies must act as leaders, partners, and facilitators. States, however, will be the centers of action for system transformation. Many have already begun this critical work. Their leadership in planning, financing, service delivery and evaluation of consumer and family-driven services will significantly advance the transformation agenda.”

Highlights of the Mental Health Action agenda include:

  • Reinforce the message that mental illnesses and emotional disturbances are treatable and that recovery is the expectation.
  • Act immediately to reduce the number of suicides in the nation through implementation of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, launched by HHS in 2001.
  • Help states develop the infrastructure necessary to formulate and implement comprehensive state mental health plans that include the capacity to create individualized plans of care that promote resilience and recovery.
  • Develop a plan to promote a mental health workforce better qualified to practice mental health care that is culturally sensitive and based on evidence-based practices in both specialty settings and at the primary care level.
  • Initiate a national effort focused on the mental health needs of children and promote early intervention with informed parental consent for children identified to be at risk for mental disorders. Prevention and early intervention can help forestall or prevent disease and disability.
  • Expand the “Science-to-Services” agenda to develop new toolkits outlining evidence-based practices for use by providers, administrators, educators, and consumers.
  • Increase the employment of people with psychiatric disabilities.
  • Design and initiate an electronic health records and information system that will help providers and consumers better manage mental health care and that will protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ health information.

“The reason for the Action Agenda is simple. People with mental disorders have a vital role to play in our families, our neighborhoods, our communities, and our country. Their ability to participate fully can no longer be derailed by outdated science, outmoded financing systems, and unspoken discrimination. Putting people with mental disorders at the heart of the health care system can be accomplished through the steps outlined in the Action Agenda,” Curie explained.

Members of the Executive Steering Committee include:

U.S. Department of Agriculture – Joseph Jen, Under Secretary, Research, Education and Economics

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -
Josefina Carbonell, Assistant Secretary Administration on Aging.
Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families.
Carolyn Clancy, Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Mark A. Safran, Chair, Mental Health Workgroup, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mark McClellan, Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Elizabeth Duke, Administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration.
Charles Grim, Director, Indian Health Services.
Thomas Insel, Director, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health.
Charles Curie, Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Within the HHS Office of the Secretary

Michael O’Grady, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
Richard Campanelli, Director, Office for Civil Rights.
Margaret Giannini, Director, Office on Disability.
Christina Beato, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Public Health and Science.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - Patricia Carlile, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Special Needs Program.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Frances Murphy, Deputy Under Secretary for Health Policy Coordination.

U.S. Department of Education, John Hagar, Assistant Secretary.

U.S. Department of Justice - Regina Schofield, Assistant Attorney General.

U.S. Department of Labor - W. Roy Grizzard, Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy.

U.S. Department of Transportation – Jennifer Dorn, Administrator, Federal Transit Administration

Social Security Administration - Martin Gerry, Deputy Commissioner for Disability and Income Security Programs.

The report is available on the web at , click on mental health transformation.



SAMHSA, a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the lead federal agency for improving the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health services in the United States.



This page was last updated on  July 18, 2005
SAMHSA is An Agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service