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SAMHSA to Sponsor Equity Challenge to Identify Organizations’ Successful Outreach Strategies to Connect Historically Underserved Communities to Services

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is sponsoring a Behavioral Health Equity Challenge, through which the Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) intends to learn more about outreach and engagements strategies that foster behavioral health equity throughout the country.

The goal of the “The Behavioral Health Equity Challenge: Outreach and Engagement Strategies for Underserved Racial and Ethnic Communities” is to identify and highlight outreach and engagement strategies used by community-based organizations (CBOs) to increase access to mental health and substance use prevention and treatment services for racial and ethnic underserved communities.

“SAMHSA is committed to addressing behavioral health disparities – be they in culturally relevant treatment access and support services, or in health outcomes,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, and the leader of SAMHSA. “We expect this Behavioral Health Equity Challenge to broaden our understanding of the obstacles to equity, as well as of the best practices of the organizations that are successfully eliminating those barriers.”

The Challenge fund has $500,000 available for up to 10 awards: Four awards will be dedicated to the winning strategies that address mental health; three awards will be dedicated to the winning strategies that address substance use prevention; and three awards will be dedicated to the winning strategies that address substance use treatment, respectively. The challenge prize for each winner is expected to be $50,000 and multiple opportunities for recognition.

CBOs, such as public or private nonprofit organizations, peer-run organizations, and faith-based organizations, are encouraged to participate. CBOs can be a sole participant or serve as a primary participant in a partnership with other organizations, such as local and state health departments, health systems, hospitals, health plans, academic medical centers, or for-profit organizations.

The Behavioral Health Equity Challenge follows last year’s Recovery Innovation Challenge that rewarded innovations developed by peer-run organizations or CBOs, and entities that may partner with them, that advance recovery.

Read more information on the Behavioral Health Equity Challenge on SAMHSA’s website and at the federal Challenge website.

Anyone who needs to find treatment for substance use or mental health disorders should call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357) or visit findtreatment.gov.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

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Reporters with questions should send inquiries to media@samhsa.hhs.gov.


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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