Now is the Time is the President’s plan to increase access to mental health services. SAMHSA has played a key role in supporting a number of activities outlined in the plan to help build safer communities.
On January 16, 2013, President Barack Obama released the Now is the Time plan to increase access to mental health services. SAMHSA has played a key role in supporting a number of activities outlined in the plan including developing and funding new grant programs, collaboration with HHS and other federal agencies, establishing the new MentalHealth.gov website, and developing information resources to promote mental health conversations in communities across the US.
The Now is the Time Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience Education) grant program builds and expands the capacity of state and local educational agencies to increase awareness of mental health and substance abuse issues among school-age youth. The program is based on SAMHSA’s successful Safe Schools/Healthy Students model. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training is also provided to help school personnel and other adults detect and respond to mental health issues in children and young adults, and connect children, youth, and families who may have behavioral health issues with appropriate services.
SAMHSA’s Healthy Transitions program improves access to treatment and services for youth and young adults ages 16-25 that either have, or are at risk of developing, a serious mental health condition. Individuals in this age group are also at high risk for substance use and suicide. Unfortunately, they are also among the least likely to seek and receive help.
Grants awarded under the Healthy Transitions program are designed to:
- Increase awareness about early indications of serious mental health concerns;
- Identify action strategies to use when a serious mental health concern is detected;
- Provide training to provider and community groups to improve services and supports specific to this age group;
- Enhance peer and family supports; and
- Develop effective services and interventions for youth, young adults and their families as these young people transition to adult roles and responsibilities.
Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training
Three-quarters of mental illnesses appear by the age of 24, yet less than half of children with diagnosable mental health problems receive treatment. Transitional age individuals (aged 16-25) are at high risk for mental illness, substance abuse, and suicide, but they are among the least likely to seek help.
SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) grant program is a collaborative grant program with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) designed to increase the behavioral health workforce equipped to treat this underserved population. It aims to increase the clinical service capacity of the behavioral health workforce by supporting training for masters-level social workers, psychologists, professional counselors, psychiatric-mental health nurse practioners, marriage and family therapists, psychology doctoral interns, as well as behavioral health paraprofessionals.
It places special emphasis on training staff to meet the needs of children, adolescents, and transition-age youth diagnosed with, or at risk of developing, a behavioral health condition.
Minority Fellowship Programs
Now Is The Time built on SAMHSA’s existing Minority Fellowship Program to expand treatment capacity for the additional populations of youth and addiction counselors. SAMHSA now supports three minority fellowship grant programs: The original Minority Fellowship Program and the two new programs associated with Now Is The Time Minority Fellowship Program - Youth (MFP-Y) and Minority Fellowship Program-Addiction Counselors.
Minority Fellowship Program – Youth
The purpose of the MFP-Y program is to reduce health disparities and improve behavioral health outcomes for racially and ethnically diverse populations by increasing the number of culturally competent behavioral health professionals serving children, adolescents, and transition-aged youth (aged 16-25).
The MFP-Y program provides stipends to graduate students to increase the number of culturally competent behavioral health professionals who provide direct mental health and/or co-occurring substance abuse services to underserved minority populations. SAMHSA aims to increase the behavioral health workforce practicing in the fields of psychology, social work, professional counseling, marriage and family therapy, and nursing.
Minority Fellowship Program – Addiction Counselors
The purpose of the MFP-AC grant program is to reduce health disparities and improve behavioral health outcomes for racially and ethnically diverse populations by increasing the number of culturally competent addiction counselors available to underserved minority populations, with a specific focus on transition-age youth (aged 16-25).
The MFP-AC program has the goal of increasing the number of master’s level addiction counselors across the nation by approximately 300 counselors.
- SAMHSA, the Department of Education, and the Department of Justice each offer grant opportunities under the Administration’s Now is the Time initiative:
- Now is the Time Project AWARE State Educational Agency Grants (NITT-AWARE-SEA)
- Now is the Time Project AWARE Local Educational Agency Grants (NITT-AWARE-LEA)
- Now is the Time Healthy Transitions: Improving Life Trajectories for Youth and Youth Adults with, or At Risk For, Serious Mental Health Conditions
- Now is the Time Minority Fellowship – Youth (NITT-MFP-Y)
- Now is the Time Minority Fellowship – Addiction Counselors (NITT-MFP-AC)
- SAMHSA/HRSA grant: visit Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Grants
- Department of Education grants: visit School Climate and Transformation Grants
- Department of Justice grants: visit School Justice Collaboration Program: Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court Grant
On September 22, 2014, during a White House event on suicide prevention, HHS announced $99 million in new grants to improve mental health services for young people.
To see the lists of award winners, visit
- FY 2014 SAMHSA Now is the Time (NITT) Grant Awards (PDF | 106 KB)
- HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training FY 2014 Awards
The Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health is designed to help individuals and organizations who want to organize community conversations achieve three potential objectives:
- Get others talking about mental health to break down misperceptions and promote recovery and healthy communities;
- Find innovative community-based solutions to mental health needs, with a focus on helping young people; and
- Develop clear steps for communities to address their mental health needs in a way that complements existing local activities.