The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently released a Draft Strategic Plan for 2023–2026 that will be used to guide the agency’s strategy in combating substance use, addressing the mental health needs of underserved populations, and bolstering the mental health workforce. SAMHSA has identified five priority areas of focus for the agency over the next 3 years:
Enhancing Access to Suicide Prevention and Crisis Care
Promoting Resilience and Emotional Health for Children, Youth, and Families
Integrating Behavioral and Physical Health Care
Strengthening the Behavioral Health Workforce
NBCC had the opportunity to submit comments focusing primarily on three of these priorities: Preventing Overdose; Promoting Resilience and Emotional Health for Children, Youth, and Families; and Strengthening the Behavioral Health Workforce. Overall, NBCC urged SAMHSA to consider the rising demand for mental health services. Many of the actions SAMHSA identified in its strategic plan will significantly increase access to mental health services. However, SAMHSA must consider ways to utilize mental health counselors to help provide high-quality services that can help people.
We strongly recommended that SAMHSA engage with the counseling community to make them more aware of SAMHSA programs and opportunities. NBCC also specifically highlighted the Minority Fellowship Program and the Counseling Compact. Both are crucial tools for SAMHSA to consider when allocating funds and resources to meet the needs of children, substance use disorder patients, and other underserved populations.