Faith and Community Engagement
Many Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) programs are delivered in faith-based and community settings. Together, these effective partnerships support mental health services, substance abuse prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery at the national, state and local levels.
The Role of SAMHSA
SAMHSA has actively engaged and supported faith-based and community organizations involved in mental health services and substance use prevention and treatment since 1993. For example:
- The Community Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership Program includes more than 800 faith-based community partners among its grantees.
- Block and formula grant program funds are available through the states to countless faith-based organizations that engage people with or at risk for mental health and substance use disorders.
- SAMHSA-supported education and training programs and curricula not only support mental health services, substance use prevention and addiction treatment, but also help create integrated, sustainable collaborations at the local and national level.
SAMHSA became one of the first agencies to undertake a specific faith-based and community initiative. The initiative emphasizes the key role faith-based and community partnerships play in the delivery of mental health, substance use prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery services, particularly to historically underserved communities and culturally diverse populations.
SAMHSA's partnership with faith-based and community organizations supports resilience and recovery in substance use prevention and treatment, and mental health services, and demonstrates the effectiveness of local, grass-roots programs in eliciting positive changes in people's lives. These partnerships pave the way for individuals to become fully engaged in society.
Building on Success
Grant programs and initiatives:
Through a variety of funding mechanisms, SAMHSA supports the following programs carried out by faith-based and other community organizations at the national, state, and local levels:
- Mental health services
- Substance abuse prevention
- Substance addiction treatment
The Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) provides funds from the SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services to states and territories that, in turn, allocate money to local agencies. The funding provides services to persons with serious mental illnesses, including those with co-occurring substance abuse disorders who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Many of the organizations that receive PATH funds are faith-based. The PATH program is unique since all locally-funded agencies coordinate their services with faith-based and community organizations serving homeless people with serious mental illnesses.
The faith community plays an important role in responding to disasters. Faith organizations have participated in SAMHSA disaster response programs, among them: Catholic Charities during the Oklahoma bombing, Lutheran Social Services in tornado-related disasters, and the Virgin Islands Baptist Church in responding to hurricanes and other disasters.
SAMHSA continues to host numerous conferences and training programs that help faith-based and community organizations enhance their work in providing mental health services, substance abuse prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery.
This instructional tool (PDF | 236 KB) on substance abuse treatment for clergy and lay persons was designed with two goals in mind. The first is to educate clergy about the nature and extent of alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse, the process of becoming addicted, and approaches to preventing, intervening with and treating substance abuse. The second is to encourage clergy to take an active role in confronting substance abuse by sharing the experiences of other faith communities that have already done so.
Information about grant opportunities is available on the SAMHSA website. You can find grant announcements, training on how to apply for a new grant, and information on the grant review process, grants oversight, grants management, and a list of grant awards.
SAMHSA Faith-Based and Community Newsletter
The monthly newsletter includes new tools, resources, grant opportunities, and updated information on SAMHSA programs. To subscribe, click here.
SAMHSA Mental Health Resources for Faith-Based and Community Leaders
Faith and community leaders are often the first point of contact when individuals and families face mental health problems or traumatic events. In fact, in times of crisis, many will turn to trusted leaders in their communities before they turn to mental health professionals. Faith leaders who are able to recognize the signs of suicide, and know how to respond, can serve as an expanded safety net for those most in need.
The SAMHSA mental health website for faith and community leaders provides information about what leaders can do to:
- Educate communities and congregations about mental health;
- Identify opportunities to promote acceptance and support for people with mental illness; and
- Connect people to help.
The HHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (The Partnership Center)
SAMHSA's parent agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has developed the HHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships that integrates information from SAMHSA with faith-based and community initiatives from the Administration on Aging, Administration for Children and Families, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Health Resources and Services Administration, Indian Health Service, Office of Minority Health, and Office of Population Affairs.
The HHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has produced the following publications:
- Hope: A Guide for Faith Leaders to Help Prevent Youth Suicide (PDF | 15.1 MB)
- Youth Mental Health and Well-being in Faith and Community Settings: Practicing Connectedness (PDF | 9.3 MB)
- Faith and Community Roadmap to Recovery Support: Getting Back to Work (PDF | 5.6 MB)
- Compassion in Action: A Guide for Faith Communities Serving People Experiencing Mental Illness and Their Caregivers (PDF | 6.8 MB)
- Preventing Drug Overdose and Supporting Recovery in Faith and Community Settings (PDF | 2.2 MB)
- The Opioid Epidemic Practical Toolkit: Helping Faith-Based and Community Leaders Bring Hope and Healing to Our Communities (PDF | 1.5 MB)
HHS is working closely with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to implement key elements of the Administration’s priorities. The mission of the office is to serve people in need by collaborating with interested faith-based and community organizations. The Biden-Harris Administration celebrated the second anniversary of the reestablishment of the office by releasing a fact sheet of accomplishments.
For More Information
For more information about SAMHSA faith-based and community engagement, email firstname.lastname@example.org.