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SAMHSA awards $1M Healthy Transitions grant to Oklahoma to help young people with serious mental disorders transition to adulthood

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded a $1 million grant to the State of Oklahoma to improve treatment access and support services for youths and young adults who have a serious emotional disturbance (SED) or a serious mental illness (SMI). 

The Healthy Transitions grant program seeks to improve emotional and behavioral health functioning among young people to help them transition into adulthood, assume grown-up responsibilities and lead full, productive lives. 

“The nation’s young people face a number of challenges as they transition into adulthood – those challenges can be significantly more difficult when young people are also grappling with a serious mental health disorder,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., the U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, as well as the leader of SAMHSA. “Our Healthy Transitions grant funds developmentally-appropriate and appealing programs and supports for young Americans to help them navigate that critical phase in life.”

Youths and young adults with SMI or SED ages 16-25, including those with intellectual developmental disabilities, may face challenges: They might not be working and might not be in school, vocational or higher education programs. Some face the additional challenges of experiencing homelessness – having been in the child welfare system or having been involved with the juvenile or criminal justice system. Such factors increase the likelihood of these young people being admitted to mental health, child welfare, and/or correctional facilities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported last year that younger adults during the COVID-19 pandemic had experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation. “Unfortunately, these same young people are among the least likely to seek help and might not receive the services and supports they need to become productive and healthy adults,” the Assistant Secretary said. 

As the grant recipient, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) will use the funding to increase awareness in local communities of the need for mental health services for these young people. ODMHSAS will conduct outreach, will engage and will refer youths and young adults with SED/SMI to treatment, while ensuring they receive evidence-informed services and coordination between child and adult systems. The department also is to develop policies to remove systemic barriers to care. ODMHSAS will receive up to $1 million each year over the course of five years. 

Americans seeking mental health treatment can find options near them at or by calling SAMHSA’s 24/7 National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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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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