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SAMHSA: Creating a System of Care That Meets the Needs of People With Mental and Substance Use Disorders

May 1, 2020

Article by Elinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D.: Creating a System of Care that Meets the Needs of People with Mental and Substance Use Disorders

This article is written by the Assistant Secretary of HHS for Mental Health and Substance Use, Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, and reviews the recent SAMHSA initiatives now in place to address the issues of serious mental illness and substance use disorders in the United States. A review of these initiatives and their goals provide an excellent overview of the resources now available to the behavioral health workforce and the general public regarding preventing, treating, and providing peer support to individuals and families. The Assistant Secretary provides important data points regarding the problems of serious mental illness (e.g., 75% of individuals with serious mental illness start to show symptoms while in adolescence), opioid use and overdoses ( 2 million individuals in the US with opioid use disorders), and the need to provide training and technical assistance to help address these issues. Finally, she notes that SAMHSA’s goals include demonstrating effective programs, collecting data on outcomes associated with these programs, and disseminating findings from these programs and then encouraging states and communities to adopt these practices and approaches. The Assistant Secretary ended the article with this quote: ‘Ultimately, understanding mental illness in our nation will lead us to provide the right resources to those in greatest need’.

SAMHSA: Creating a system of care the meets that needs of people with mental and substance use disorders (Viewpoint).  Psychiatric Services, published online, 3.26.20 

This article is available as an open resource and can be found online at or

download a pdf copy - SAMHSA: Creating a System of Care That Meets the Needs of People With Mental and Substance Use Disorders by Elinore F. McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D.


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