SAMHSA’s Prevention Efforts for Specific Populations

SAMHSA focuses on at-risk populations by initiating and supporting prevention and early intervention programs to address specific cultural needs.

Children and Youth

Half of adult mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders begin before age 14, and three-fourths by age 24. SAMHSA has many programs, public awareness efforts, and partnerships to support and educate children and youth, as well as their families and communities:

Young Adults

Youth transitioning into adulthood (ages 18 to 25) are especially vulnerable to mental and/or substance use disorders. For example, results from SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (PDF | 3.4 MB) show the rate of substance dependence or abuse among adults aged 18 to 25 (16.3%) was higher than that among youths aged 12 to 17 (5%) and among adults aged 26 or older (7.1%).

From 2002 to 2014, the rate decreased for youths aged 12 to 17 (from 8.9 to 5%) and for young adults aged 18 to 25 (from 21.7 to 16.3%).

This age group is a special focus in President Obama’s Now Is The Time initiative, and SAMHSA is addressing it with the Healthy Transitions program.

American Indians and Alaska Natives

SAMHSA’s Office of Tribal Affairs and Policy (OTAP) serves as SAMHSA’s primary point of contact for tribal governments, tribal organizations, federal departments and agencies, and other governments and agencies on behavioral health issues facing American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States. The office supports SAMHSA’s efforts to advance the development and implementation of data-driven policies and innovative practices that promote improved behavioral health for American Indian and Alaska Native communities and populations. OTAP brings together SAMHSA’s tribal affairs, tribal policy, tribal consultation, tribal advisory, and Tribal Law and Order Act responsibilities to improve agency coordination and meaningful progress. Prevention and early intervention efforts include:

For more information on SAMHSA’s efforts among American Indian and Alaska Native communities, visit the Tribal Affairs topic.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Individuals

LGBT individuals face health disparities linked to discrimination, oppression, and denial of their civil and human rights. As a consequence, they tend to have higher rates for mental and/or substance abuse disorders and suicide.

SAMHSA’s LGBT-focused prevention and early intervention efforts include:

To develop prevention and early intervention strategies, SAMHSA’s Top Health Issues for LGBT Populations Information & Resource Kit – 2012 provides information on behavioral health issues for each of the LGBT populations.

Visit the SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity’s LGBT webpage to learn more and access additional resources.

Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families

A significant number of returning service men and women suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and substance abuse (particularly alcohol and prescription drug abuse). A recent report based on the 2013 NSDUH showed that 1 in 15 veterans had a substance use disorder in the past year. In addition, the suicide rate among male and female veterans and military service members exceeds the national suicide rate for the general population, according to a January 2014 Veterans Health Administration report (PDF | 855 KB).

Further, there is a growing body of research about the impact of deployment and trauma-related stress on military families, particularly wives and children.

SAMHSA focuses on improving the behavioral health of the nation’s military service members, veterans, and their families. It does this by providing support and leadership through a collaborative and comprehensive approach to increase access to appropriate services, prevent suicide, promote emotional health, and reduce homelessness.

For more information, visit the Veterans and Military Families topic.

Last Updated: 10/30/2015