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HHS Announces Winners of 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 the winners of 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 that advance recovery. 

SAMHSA defines recovery as a process of change through which individuals who experience mental and/or substance use disorders improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential. SAMHSA stands with President Joe Biden in celebrating the tens of millions of Americans who are in recovery.

“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.”

“SAMHSA’s first-ever Recovery Innovation Challenge has been a wonderful opportunity to hear from communities active in helping Americans recover and thrive,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “The judges had our work cut out for us – there were so many great entries. SAMHSA staff are eager to explore incorporating these winning approaches into the grant programs and technical assistance we fund.”

The Recovery Innovation Challenge was announced in May during Mental Health Awareness Month, and SAMHSA received more than 350 submissions from peer-run and community-based organizations across the country through the SAMHSA Recovery Innovation Challenge page on the website. Challenge participants were encouraged to share details about the practices they use to advance recovery and to demonstrate how these practices either expand upon SAMHSA’s definition of recovery or help them overcome challenges in incorporating recovery into their behavioral health services or systems. 

The 10 SAMHSA Recovery Innovation Challenge winners will each receive $40,000 in prize money. In no particular order, they are: 

  • Seattle Indian Health Board 
  • Nevada Caring Contacts 
  • D. Wood Foundation 
  • Maternity Care Coalition 
  • Chainless Change 
  • The Women’s Home 
  • Voices of Hope
  • Center for Alternative Sentencing & Employment Services (CASES) and N.Y. Justice Peer Initiative (joint application)
  • Progress House 
  • Hushabye Nursery

The final judges panel comprised Assistant Secretary Delphin-Rittmon; former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI); Peggy Swarbrick, Ph.D., of Rutgers University; Mark Salzer, Ph.D., of Temple University; and H. Westley Clark, M.D., a former director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. SAMHSA harnessed this Challenge to engage with a large and diverse number of organizations, including groups providing recovery services and supports at all levels in the continuum of care for behavioral health. For information, view SAMHSA’s Recovery Innovation Challenge webpage

HHS has a long history of advancing Recovery Support dating back to the 1980s. More recently, SAMHSA established an Office of Recovery to advance the agency’s commitment to supporting recovery for all Americans. The Office of Recovery, which is in the Office of the Assistant Secretary,  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.

September is National Recovery Month. The national observance, which started in 1989, is held every September to promote and support new treatment and recovery practices, the nation’s strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and communities who make recovery in all its forms possible. Read about Recovery Month events

Anyone seeking treatment for mental health or substance use issues should call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357) or visit If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat

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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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