Summary of comments, suggestions, and ideas received for a draft of Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation 2015 – 2018.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released a draft of Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation 2015 – 2018 (Leading Change 2.0). By the end of the comment period, SAMHSA received over 1,400 ideas, comments, and suggestions from the public. In addition, SAMHSA staff, federal partners, stakeholder groups, and SAMHSA’s National Advisory Council members provided written feedback before and during the comment period. SAMHSA would like to thank everyone who took time to review the draft and provide their input. This level of participation and response is gratifying and underscores the importance of SAMHSA’s work.
Now that the comment period has closed for Leading Change 2.0, SAMHSA has reviewed the feedback received and developed a final version of this plan.
The feedback covered a wide range of topics, including suggestions about specific policies; additional and expanded areas of focus; and increased public awareness, education, and training efforts. Some of the frequently cited comments submitted online included suggestions that the plan do more about the following:
- Meeting the needs of a variety of groups including older adults, rural and other underserved communities;
- Stronger emphasis on resources and supports for caretakers and family members;
- Increased emphasis on behavioral health treatment for individuals with substance use and/or mental disorders (including serious mental illnesses);
- Enhanced training and education for peer providers;
- Collaboration across other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Operating Divisions, such as the Health Resources and Services Administration; and
- Engagement with faith-based organizations.
SAMHSA has worked to extract common themes, incorporate suggestions, and produce the final version of Leading Change 2.0. In some cases, the ideas presented are more appropriate for the implementation level so will be considered as SAMHSA does its work to address the goals and objectives each year.
In other cases, SAMHSA feels the issues are adequately addressed, although some might prefer different language or references to more specific diagnoses, programs, or practices. In the final version of Leading Change 2.0, SAMHSA has tried to reflect most of the suggestions received or has emphasized existing activities, goals or objectives that may not have been adequately described in the draft released for comment.
Unfortunately, SAMHSA does not have the resources to address every issue or idea that was raised. Sometimes these decisions are hard, requiring difficult choices about competing priorities. SAMHSA is committed to engaging other federal partners – for example, the Administration on Aging (part of the Administration for Community Living), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Health Resources and Services Administration – that have primary responsibility for some of the suggested areas of focus. SAMHSA will continue and expand its efforts to collaborate and support or supplement these partners’ work so that behavioral health needs and populations are reflected in all parts of HHS. SAMHSA will also continue to consider commenters’ suggestions if additional resources become available.
SAMHSA staff is humbled by the time and energy that so many people put into this process. Even if specific ideas are not reflected in the final version of the paper, they may contribute to the development of SAMHSA’s initiatives and other work in the future.
Thank you for your continued interest and support. Together we will accomplish SAMHSA’s mission, to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.
– SAMHSA Leadership