Behavioral Health Equity
Behavioral health equity is the right to access high-quality and affordable health care services and supports for all populations, including Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.
As population demographics continue to shift, behavioral health care systems will need to expand their ability to fluidly meet the growing needs of a diverse population. By improving access to behavioral health care, promoting quality behavioral health programs and practice, and reducing persistent disparities in mental health and substance use services for underserved populations and communities, recipients can ensure that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. In conjunction with promoting access to high-quality services, behavioral health disparities can be further mitigated by addressing social determinants of health, such as social exclusion, unemployment, adverse childhood experiences, and food and housing insecurity.
Advancing health equity involves ensuring that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This also applies to behavioral health. In conjunction with quality services, this involves addressing social determinants, such as employment and housing stability, insurance status, proximity to services, culturally responsive care – all of which have an impact on behavioral health outcomes.
The Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) coordinates SAMHSA’s efforts to reduce disparities in mental and/or substance use disorders across populations. Its work is organized around key strategies, including data, policy, and quality practice and workforce development.
OBHE utilizes federal and community data to identify, monitor, and respond to behavioral health disparities.
OBHE expands the behavioral health workforce capacity to improve outreach, engagement, and quality of care for minority and underserved populations.
OBHE promotes policy initiatives that strengthen the impact of SAMHSA programs in advancing behavioral health equity.
Learn about key federal behavioral health equity resources including data on health disparities and health care quality among diverse populations, information about health policy, cultural and linguistic competency, health literacy, and more.