On September 29, 2023, SAMHSA’s Office of Recovery celebrated its first birthday. One year ago, during National Recovery Month, SAMHSA officially launched its first-ever Office to advance recovery across the nation.
In our first year, we hit the ground running getting established, assembling a team of subject matter experts with lived experience, and addressing the following critical issues we heard are important from recovery leaders and allies across the nation:
Inclusion: “Nothing About Us Without Us”
To foster the meaningful involvement of a wide array of people with lived experience to improve behavioral health practice and policy and to foster the social inclusion of people with behavioral health conditions.
We released a Policy on the Inclusion of People with Lived Experience for SAMHSA to model what meaningfully engaging and involving a diverse array of individuals in all aspects of our work looks like. We also convened Regional Recovery Meetings in HHS Regions 3 and 5 to help elevate the voice of people in recovery and their allies in identifying needed solutions. For National Recovery Month, we sponsored a series of training webinars and a National Recovery Walk for Recovery in Washington D.C. to raise awareness and celebrate the millions of Americans who are in recovery.
Equity: “Recovery for All”
To increase opportunities for recovery for underserved and under-resourced populations and communities including people of color, youth, older adults, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+), rural, veterans and people with disabilities.
We convened the first-ever Tribal Recovery Summit that brought together over 300 tribal members to identify critical needs and culturally based healing practices.
Peer Services: “Peers Helping Peers”
To expand peer-provided services within every community.
In collaboration with federal, state, tribal, territorial and local partners including peer specialists, we released SAMHSA’s National Model Standards for Peer Support Certification designed to expand and improve the quality of the peer workforce. We also convened a National Peer Summit to provide a forum to bring together people in recovery, family members, youth, states, funders, and others to share ideas and actions to grow peer service delivery.
Social Determinants of Recovery: “Whole Health Care”
To address key determinants that support recovery including access to housing, education, social supports, and employment.
We updated and released Best Practices for Recovery Housing to improve the quality of recovery housing across the nation. We also convened meetings that explored the intersection, coordination, and collaboration of Recovery Housing and Housing First approaches and a dialogue meeting on expanding Collegiate Recovery programs. We worked with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, U.S. Departments of Labor and Commerce, and others on Recovery Ready Workplaces.
Wellness: “Individual, Family and Community Wellness”
To expand holistic, self-care strategies to improve health and behavioral health outcomes – including the reduction of early mortality and impact of chronic health conditions--and to integrate recovery-oriented practices and systemic reform into the full continuum of health and behavioral healthcare including prevention, harm reduction, treatment, crisis care, and recovery support.
We convened a series of training events during “May is Mental Health Month” on the importance of family and youth supports and a Technical Experts Panel on Family Caregiving to create new opportunities to support families and other caregivers. We also sponsored a dialogue meeting between leaders in psychiatry and people with lived experience to build bridges to foster recovery-oriented treatment approaches and a Technical Expert Panel on Digital Innovations to Advance Recovery to explore the growth of on-line recovery support services.
In addition, we focused on the importance of data and evidence by releasing Recovery from Substance Use and Mental Health Problems Among Adults in the United States that documents the over 50 million of Americans in recovery and the holistic factors that help support recovery. We also convened a Recovery Research Technical Expert Panel to identify current research efforts and gaps that need attention. In the area of trauma, we sponsored a series of trainings for SAMHSA staff and managers on promoting a trauma-informed workplace and began an analysis of peer crisis respite services and conducted a Technical Expert Panel to examine Peer-Operated Warm Lines. Finally, we focused on rights protection including a meeting to identify strategies to further recovery-oriented criminal justice reforms.
This is a sample of the work and priorities of the Office of Recovery during Year One. As we start Year Two, we are excited to continue to grow and make positive impacts to advance recovery. As we move forward, we look to expand our support and technical assistance to increase access to a comprehensive array of quality recovery support services. This includes our new effort called SPARK – SAMHSA Programs to Advance Recovery Knowledge – which is designed to work with people with lived experience and allies to advance recovery across the nation.
Just as people don’t recover alone, the work of the Office of Recovery is supported by every component of SAMHSA along with our federal, state, and local partners along with recovery community members and allies.
The Office of Recovery convenes quarterly Recovery Exchange meetings to share our latest work and to hear from recovery leaders across the nation. To be kept informed, you can sign up for announcements for these meetings as well as other Recovery Update e-blast announcements.
Happy 1st Birthday Office of Recovery — many more to come!