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Federal government-wide effort underway to better address serious mental illness

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the formation of a new federal interagency initiative to better address serious mental illness across the nation. The Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) was created under the 21st Century Cures Act to foster coordination of all federal efforts related to serious mental illness. SAMHSA is responsible for managing the ISMICC.

The committee will be comprised of representatives from federal government agencies as well as members of the public. Ten federal agencies will participate in the ISMICC including HHS, the Departments of Justice, Labor, Veteran Affairs, Defense, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Labor and the Social Security Administration. In addition, there will be at least 14 non-federal members including mental health researchers, providers, patients, families, judges, law enforcement officers, and other professionals working with individuals living with serious mental illness. The committee is expected to announce its full membership and convene its inaugural meeting later this year.

On May 24, 2017, SAMHSA issued a notice in the Federal Register calling nominations for the non-federal members to be submitted by June 2, 2017. Details on the nomination requirements is available at:

“The ISMICC will play a critical role in helping the federal government address our nation’s efforts to improve the lives of Americans with serious mental illnesses and their families,” stated Kana Enomoto, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use.

The ISMICC will report on advances in research on serious mental illness among adults and serious emotional disturbance among children. It will also focus on how serious mental illness may be related to suicide, drug overdoses, emergency hospitalizations, criminal justice involvement, homelessness, unemployment, and other issues. The committee will provide specific recommendations for actions that agencies can take to better coordinate the administration of mental health services for adults with serious mental illness and children with serious emotional disturbance.

Almost 10 million Americans experience a serious mental illness each year – a condition which, if untreated, can have a significant impact on the quality of their lives as well as the lives of their friends and loved ones. Fortunately, effective treatment can help people to overcome this condition so they can go on to live healthy, productive lives in the community.

More information on the ISMICC, including the charter, is available on SAMHSA’s website:

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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.

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