Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

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The front of the SAMHSA building in Rockville, MD

United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Agency overview
Formed 1992
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Headquarters Rockville, Maryland
Agency executive Pamela S. Hyde, J.D,Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration”
Parent agency Department of Health and Human Services

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is charged with improving the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services in order to reduce illness, death, disability, and cost to society resulting from substance abuse and mental illnesses. The Administrator of SAMHSA reports directly to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SAMHSA’s headquarters building is located in Rockville, Maryland.



SAMHSA was established in 1992 by Congress as part of a reorganization of the Federal administration of mental health services; the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) was abolished and its service components were transferred to the newly-organized SAMHSA.

Congress directed SAMHSA to target effectively substance abuse and mental health services to the people most in need and to translate research in these areas more effectively and rapidly into the general health care system.[1]

Charles Curie was SAMHSA’s Director until his resignation in May 2006. In December 2006 Terry Cline was appointed as SAMHSA’s Director. Dr. Cline served through August 2008. Rear Admiral Eric Broderick served as the Acting Director upon Dr. Cline’s departure,[2] until the arrival of the succeeding Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. in November 2009.[3]


SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on American’s communities.

To accomplish its work, SAMHSA administers a combination of competitive, formula, and block grant programs and data collection activities. The Agency’s programs are carried out through:

  • The Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) which focuses on prevention and treatment of mental disorders.
  • The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) which seeks to prevent and reduce the abuse of illegal drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
  • The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) which supports the provision of effective substance abuse treatment and recovery services.
  • The Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ) which has primary responsibility for collection, analysis and dissemination of behavior health data.

Together these units support U.S. States, Territories, Tribes, communities, and local organizations through grant and contract awards. They also provide national leadership in promoting the provision of quality behavioral-health services. Major activities to improve the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and recovery-support services, are funded through competitive Programs of Regional and National Significance grants. A number of supporting offices complement the work of the four Centers: [4]

  • The Office of the Administrator (OA)
  • The Office of Policy, Planning, and Innovation (OPPI)
  • The Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE)
  • The Office of Financial Resources (OFR)
  • The Office of Management, Technology, and Operations (OMTO)
  • The Office of Communications (OC)

SAMHSA’s Strategic Direction

In 2010, SAMHSA identified 8 Strategic Initiatives to focus the Agency’s work. Below are the 8 areas and goals associated with each category: [5]

  • Prevention of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness – Create prevention-prepared communities in which individuals, families, schools, workplaces, and communities take action to promote emotional health; and, to prevent and reduce mental illness, substance (including tobacco) abuse, and, suicide, across the lifespan
  • Trauma and Justice – Reduce the pervasive, harmful, and costly public-health impacts of violence and trauma by integrating trauma-informed approaches throughout health and behavioral healthcare systems; also, to divert people with substance-abuse and mental disorders away from criminal-/juvenile-justice systems, and into trauma-informed treatment and recovery.
  • Military Families – Active, Guard, Reserve, and Veteran – Support of our service men & women, and their families and communities, by leading efforts to ensure needed behavioral health services are accessible to them, and successful outcomes.
  • Health Reform – Broaden health coverage and the use of evidence-based practices to increase access to appropriate and high quality care; also, to reduce existing disparities between: the availability of substance abuse and mental disorders; and, those for other medical conditions.
  • Housing and Homelessness – To provide housing for, and to reduce the barriers to accessing recovery-sustaining programs for, homeless persons with mental and substance abuse disorders (and their families)
  • Health Information Technology for Behavioral Health Providers – To ensure that the behavioral-health provider network — including prevention specialists and consumer providers — fully participate with the general healthcare delivery system, in the adoption of health information technology.
  • Data, Outcomes, and Quality – Demonstrating Results – Realize an integrated data strategy that informs policy, measures program impact, and results in improved quality of services and outcomes for individuals, families, and communities.
  • Public Awareness and Support – Increase understanding of mental and substance abuse prevention & treatment services, to achieve the full potential of prevention, and, to help people recognize and seek assistance for these health conditions with the same urgency as any other health condition.

Their budget for the Fiscal Year 2010 was about $3.6 billion. It was re-authorized for FY2011.


In February 2004, the administration was accused of requiring the name change of an Oregon mental health conference from “Suicide Prevention Among Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Individuals” to “Suicide Prevention in Vulnerable Populations.”[6][7]

In 2002, then-President George W. Bush established the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. The resulting report was intended to provide the foundation for the federal government’s Mental Health Services programs. However, many experts and advocates were highly critical of its report, “Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America”.[8]



External links

See also

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