Page title
SAMHSA outlines new strategic initiatives paper for advancing the nation’s behavioral health

Main page content

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) today published its strategic initiatives paper -- an overview of SAMHSA's goals, priorities and action steps for accomplishing its mission of reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities. Carefully developed from months of public discussion and input from a wide variety of SAMHSA's stakeholders, the strategic initiatives paper lays out how SAMHSA will focus its resources in meeting the new opportunities and challenges it faces in the near future.

The eight strategic initiatives set forth in the paper address how SAMHSA will maximize its resources in an environment that promises improvements in the nation's behavioral health care system over the next few years as a result of a variety of forces -- most notably the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. The strategic initiatives include:

  1. Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness -- Creating communities where individuals, families, schools, faith-based organizations, and workplaces take action to promote emotional health and reduce the likelihood of mental illness, substance abuse including tobacco, and suicide. This initiative will include a focus on the nation's high-risk youth, youth in Tribal communities, and military families.
  2. Trauma and Justice -- Reducing the pervasive, harmful, and costly health impact of violence and trauma by integrating trauma-informed approaches throughout health, behavioral health, and related systems and addressing the behavioral health needs of people involved in or at risk of involvement in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
  3. Military Families -- Supporting America's service men and women -- active duty, National Guard, Reserve, and veteran -- together with their families and communities by leading efforts to ensure that needed behavioral health services are accessible and that outcomes are positive.
  4. Recovery Support -- Partnering with people in recovery from mental and substance use disorders and family members to guide the behavioral health system and promote individual-, program-, and system-level approaches that foster health and resilience; increase permanent housing, employment, education, and other necessary supports; and reduce discriminatory barriers.
  5. Health Reform -- Increasing access to appropriate high quality prevention, treatment, and recovery services; reducing disparities that currently exist between the availability of services for mental and substance use disorders compared with the availability of services for other medical conditions; and supporting integrated, coordinated care, especially for people with behavioral health and other co-occurring health conditions such as HIV/AIDS.
  6. Health Information Technology -- Ensuring that the behavioral health system, including States, community providers, and peer and prevention specialists, fully participates with the general health care delivery system in the adoption of health information technology (HIT) and interoperable electronic health records (EHRs).
  7. Data, Outcomes, and Quality -- Realizing an integrated data strategy and a national framework for quality improvement in behavioral health care that will inform policy, measure program impact, and lead to improved quality of services and outcomes for individuals, families, and communities.
  8. Public Awareness and Support -- Increasing the understanding of mental and substance use disorders and the many pathways to recovery to achieve the full potential of prevention, help people recognize mental and substance use disorders and seek assistance with the same urgency as any other health condition, and make recovery the expectation.
"The strategic initiatives paper provides a clear roadmap for SAMHSA's immediate and longer term priorities for reaching our essential public health mission," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. "These initiatives are data driven, overarching in purpose and will help SAMHSA work in an unprecedented way across health, justice, social service, education and other systems to improve health care services to all Americans."
The strategic initiative paper and each of the initiatives are designed to be "living documents" with built in ability to adapt to changing conditions and need over time. SAMHSA will continue to work closely with all of its collaborators in the behavioral health and related fields to ensure that the initiatives reflect the latest advances in science and emerging needs among a wide range of communities.
SAMHSA's strategic initiatives paper, Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA's Roles and Actions 2011-2014, is available at
Press Announcements: Footer Block

Reporters with questions should send inquiries to

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes.

Last Updated

Last Updated: