Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, Assistant Secretary, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration held a town hall meeting at the National Council for Behavioral Health NATCON18 in Washington, DC. In her presentation she identifies as the major challenges of our time such as the small proportion of those incarcerated who have a severe mental illness (20%) or a substance use disorder (up to 50%) who will get treatment or the small number of Americans with and Opioid Use Disorder who receive specialty treatment. Dr. McCance-Katz noted she was encouraged by the increased resources Congress has targeted for substance abuse the $3.18 Billion allocated in Fiscal Year 2018 reflects an increase of $1.05B over 2017. She identified the main tasks of her office:
Maintain a system to disseminate research findings and EBP to service providers to improve prevention and treatment services
Ensure that grants are subject to performance and outcome evaluations; conduct ongoing oversight of grantees
Consult with stakeholders to improve community based and other mental health services including for adults with SMI and children with SED
Collaborate with other departments (VA, DoD, HUD, DOL) to improve care to veterans and service members and support programs to address chronic homelessness
Work with stakeholders to improve the recruitment and retention of mental health and substance use disorder professionals
Dr. McCance-Katz also expressed a concern with the data trends for Marijuana. While the perceived Risk of Harm has held steady for must drugs, this indicator has declined significantly with almost a 10 percent decrease between 2015 and 2016 (NSDUH). Pregnant women are also reporting higher use of marijuana with an increase of over 40 percent from 2015 (78K) to 2016 (111K).
Dr. McCance-Katz closed her presentation with a discussion of the new evidence-based practices Resource Center at SAMHSA. This resource is available at www.samhsa.gov/ebp-resource-center.