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HHS Announces Its First-Ever Behavioral Health Recovery Innovation Challenge

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is announcing its first-ever behavioral health Recovery Innovation Challenge. The goal of this challenge is to identify innovations developed by peer-run or community-based organizations, and entities that may partner with them—such as local or state governments, health systems, hospitals, or health plans—that advance recovery. SAMHSA defines recovery as a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential. As President Biden said in his State of the Union address, we celebrate the 23 million Americans in recovery, and combating the opioid crisis that has touched so many Americans is a key element of the President’s Unity Agenda.

“Millions of Americans are living in various stages of recovery from mental health and substance use challenges, and whether they are beginning or continuing that journey, they deserve the most innovative and effective care and services available,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “SAMHSA’s Recovery Innovation Challenge will allow us to learn from the recovery service community about tools and techniques they’re using at the state and local level that need to be scaled nationwide.”

“We are excited to introduce SAMHSA’s first-ever Recovery Innovation Challenge and are eager to give voice to those doing innovative work in this space,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “By using this vehicle, we hope to gain a better understanding of effective and innovative recovery practices from a very diverse field. We aim to take what works for a small group and scale up to a larger population.”

As part of this challenge, participants are encouraged to share details about the practices they are using to advance recovery and demonstrate how these practices have: 1) expanded upon SAMHSA’s definition of recovery, or 2) helped them overcome challenges in incorporating recovery into their behavioral health services or systems. SAMHSA is using the challenge to directly engage with a larger and more diverse number of organizations, including groups providing recovery services and supports at all levels in the continuum of care for behavioral health.

HHS has a long history of advancing Recovery Support dating back to the 1980s. Recently, SAMHSA established an Office of Recovery to advance the agency’s commitment to supporting recovery for all Americans. The Office of Recovery will serve as a resource for recovery services across the mental health and substance use domains and will promote recovery in partnership with recovery community leaders to resolve barriers to system transformation.

The Challenge begins today, and the deadline for submission is July 15, 2022. The judging period takes place from July 15 to August 5; finalists will be announced on August 6. Finalists must give presentations to a panel of judges from September 2-9, 2022; awards will be announced in October 2022. The purse prize is up to $400,000. The competition will offer up to 10 awards, depending on the judges’ overall scores.

All submission materials must be submitted through the SAMHSA Recovery Innovation Challenge page on the website.

For more information, view SAMHSA’s Recovery Innovation Challenge webpage.

Anyone seeking treatment for mental health or substance use issues should call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357) or visit

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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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