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Behavioral Health Equity

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Behavioral health equity is the right of all individuals, regardless of race, age, ethnicity, gender, disability, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or geographical location, to access high-quality and affordable healthcare services and support.

Advancing behavioral health equity means working to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. In conjunction with access to quality services, this involves addressing social determinants of health—such as employment and housing stability, insurance status, proximity to services, and culturally responsive care—all of which have an impact on behavioral health outcomes.

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New Resource: SAMHSA OBHE Behavioral Health Fact Sheet - April 2024

To commemorate National Minority Health Month this April, the SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) is proud to announce the release of its Behavioral Health Equity Fact Sheet. This resource describes SAMHSA’s efforts to advance Behavioral Health Equity by promoting mental health, preventing substance misuse and providing treatments and support to foster recovery and improve the lives of underserved communities.

Upcoming Events

Time: 3 p.m. ET

In honor of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month in May, please join us for a free webinar, The Power of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Cultural Practices in Healing.

REGISTER HERE!

Key objectives:

  • Learn about cultural frameworks to build trust and community engagement in behavioral health care services and support during times of crisis.
  • Gain literacy on key cultural concepts of health, community identity, and wellness.
  • Hear presenters share on the ground experiences of building behavioral health support using these principles during the continuing recovery and healing in Lahaina, Maui.
  • Learn how to adapt these cultural frameworks for all communities impacted by crisis, fostering inclusive and culturally sensitive healing practices.

Learn more about receiving continuing education credit hours.

Sign up for email updates from the AANHPI CoE.

The Power of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Cultural Practices in Healing on May 29 at 3 p.m. ET

Time: 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET

REGISTER HERE!

This session will provide an overview of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Tribal Behavioral Health Agenda and will describe resources available to promote the mental health and well-being of Tribal communities.

Presenters:

  • Captain Karen Hearod, M.S.W., LCSW (Choctaw Nation), Director, Office of Tribal Affairs and Policy, SAMHSA
  • Sienna Hunter-Cuyjet, LMSW, LCSW, LICSW, ACSW (Shinnecock Nation), Certified Trauma & Resilience Practitioner, SAMHSA Tribal Training & Technical Assistance (TTA) Center, Three Star Government Solutions, LLC

Time: 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET

REGISTER HERE!

This listening session seeks input from American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Service Members, Veterans and their Families (SMVF), and community leaders serving this population.

Listening Session Goals:

  • Better understand the views and concerns of tribal communities and find ways to build a strong tribal program for suicide prevention
  • Ensure representation and elevate indigenous knowledge throughout all aspects of program planning and implementation

Time: 2 - 3:30 p.m. ET

REGISTER HERE!

This session will illustrate the power of traditions and cultural practices in healing. For example, many communities hold ceremonies when service members leave for their service and again when they return. Practices like sweat lodges, talking circles, honor songs, and drumming all work to heal the mind, body, and soul.

Presenters:

  • Barbara Aragon (Laguna Pueblo, Crow), Technical Assistant, SAMHSA TTA
  • Raymond Daw (Navajo Nation), Behavioral Health Consultant, National Association of Behavioral Health Consultants
  • Ivan Sam (Navajo Nation), Cultural Ambassador, The Veterans Art Project
SAMHSA's Office of Behavioral Health Equity

SAMHSA's Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE)

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The Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) advances behavioral health equity by reducing disparities in racial, ethnic, LGBTQIA+, and other under-resourced communities across the country by improving access to quality services and supports that enables all to thrive, participate, and contribute to healthier communities.

Learn more about what we do.

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Mission

OBHE’s mission is to advance equity in behavioral health care through equitable access, quality services, and improved outcomes for racial, ethnic and sexual, gender marginalized populations and other underserved communities.

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Vision

OBHE envisions that people from underserved racial, ethnic and sexual/gender minority populations with or at-risk for mental health and substance use conditions readily access quality care, thrive, and achieve well-being.

Core Guiding Principles

Core Guiding Principles

OBHE's work is guided by three key principles:

  • Centering at the margins
    Shifts the dynamics of how policy is made and who it works for by focusing on people and communities at the margins, not at the mean.
  • Using Equitable Data
    Enables rigorous assessment of the extent to which programs and policies yield consistently fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals and communities. Equitable data helps to identify inequities and opportunities for strategic actions, to set goals and objectives, and to measure change to improve outcomes for underserved communities.
  • Highlighting Community Voice
    Advances equity by using innovative, tailored solutions that come from the very communities that are now underserved. Highlighting community voice is essential to redress past harms, earn trust, establish partnerships, and ensure that policies are responsive to the needs of those they serve.
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Office of Behavioral Health Equity

Key Initiatives

Learn more about Community-Based Organizations (CBOs).

Build capacity, increase the visibility, and highlight the unique role of CBOs serving under-resourced communities in behavioral health.

Data Storytelling Series: This four-part webinar series will focus on providing the context and tools necessary for behavioral health organizations to convey their impact and move their work to the next level through data storytelling.

Behavioral Health Equity Challenge: Participants share their innovative strategies to help underserved racial and ethnic communities access behavioral health services.

The NNED is a network of community-based organizations focused on mental health and substance use issues of diverse racial and ethnic communities. The NNED supports information sharing, training, and technical assistance towards the goal of promoting behavioral health equity.

NNED Learn is an annual training opportunity for community-based organizations. The goal is to develop members’ skills in evidence-supported and culturally appropriate mental illness and substance use prevention and treatment practices to support practice implementation.

Limited language access within behavioral health services creates barriers for people and communities with limited English proficiency. In response to language access barriers, OBHE is developing a language access protocol in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI.

SAMHSA requires grant recipients, or grantees, to prepare a DIS as part of a data-driven, quality improvement approach to advance equity. The aim is to increase inclusion of underserved populations in SAMHSA-funded grants, achieve behavioral health equity for disparity-vulnerable populations, and help systems better meet the needs of these populations.

SAMHSA requires grant recipients, or grantees, to prepare a DIS as part of a data-driven, quality improvement approach to advance equity. The aim is to increase inclusion of underserved populations in SAMHSA-funded grants, achieve behavioral health equity for disparity-vulnerable populations, and help systems better meet the needs of these populations.

  • African-American Behavioral Health Center of Excellence
    The African-American Behavioral Health CoE develops and disseminates training and technical assistance for healthcare practitioners on issues related to addressing behavioral health disparities.
  • AANHPI Ohana Center of Excellence
    The Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) ‘Ohana CoE advances the behavioral health equity of AA, NH, and PI communities. The AANHPI-CoE develops and disseminates culturally-informed, evidence-based behavioral health information and provide technical assistance and training on issues related to addressing behavioral health disparities in AA, NH and PI communities.
  • Hispanic/Latino Behavioral Health Center of Excellence
    The Hispanic/Latino Behavioral Health CoE serves as a resource to mental health and substance use providers, primary care providers, community-based and faith-based organizations, research institutions, Hispanic and Latino-Serving Institutions (HSIs) of higher education, peer and recovery support service providers, state, regional, local and federal entities, other systems that address behavioral health issues experienced by Hispanic and Latino individuals (e.g. education, criminal justice, and social services), and the general public, including Hispanic and Latino individuals, families, and communities and those with lived experience.
  • LGBTQI+ Behavioral Health Centers of Excellence
    The CoE on LGBTQI Behavioral Health Equity provides behavioral health practitioners with vital information on supporting the population of people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, two-spirit, and other diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions. Through training, coaching, and technical assistance the CoE is implementing change strategies within mental health and substance use disorder treatment systems to address disparities effecting LGBTQ+ people across all stages of life.
Last Updated
Last Updated: 05/25/2023
Last Updated