Category Mental Health

Finding the Clinical Treatment That’s Right for You or a Loved One

One in five adults will experience a mental illness this year, but fewer than half will seek treatment. A new series of SAMHSA resources is designed to help bridge this gap. Our newly published fact sheets on Treatments for Mental Disorders educate people diagnosed with mental illness, their families and their friends about currently available evidence-based treatments.

Expert panels of researchers, clinicians, consumers, families and administrators met to provide input on the content of each fact sheet. Each fact sheet focuses on a specific diagnosis, such as bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder. They are designed to equip people with accurate general information on treatment options that should help to promote better understanding of modern treatment approaches. The fact sheets present a range of effective clinical treatment options and other supports most likely to be helpful for people diagnosed with that specific condition.

Each fact sheet explains, in plain language, the benefits and risks of treatment to promote informed decision making. This should help to demystify treatment and encourage others to seek care.  It is also important for people to receive treatment as soon as possible, particularly people experiencing a first episode of psychosis.

We hope Mental Health Awareness Month has inspired many people to recognize their need for help. In addition, I hope these resources will help determine, in consultation with a clinician, the best suited treatment and supports for you or a loved one. For help locating treatment in your community, use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator: or SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357); 1-800-487-4889 (TDD). And remember: Treatment is effective and people recover!

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SAMHSA Welcomes Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr. Justine Larson, Senior Medical Advisor for the Center for Mental Health Services

Over the past 25 years, CMHS has worked to develop and implement behavioral health treatment, prevention, and recovery support programs for Americans with mental disorders and addictions.  Our work will soon get a bigger boost with the appointment of child and adolescent psychiatrist, Justine Larson, M.D., M.P.H., M.H.S. as our new Senior Medical Advisor.

Dr. Larson’s expertise and leadership will be invaluable in applying a clinical lens across a broad spectrum of mental health programs. She will provide her medical and clinical expertise particularly in programs to support services for people with serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbance. She will help formulate public health policy initiatives and provide clinical expertise to senior leaders and program staff.  Dr. Larson will work closely with SAMHSA’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anita Everett, and across federal departments and agencies, to ensure federal coordination in the provision of effective treatment and services for people with serious mental illnesses.

Dr. Larson brings a wealth of academic, research, and practice-based expertise to her new role – especially in the areas of child and adolescent mental health, evidence-based treatment, and integrated care.  She is board certified in adult psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and neurology and obtained her undergraduate degree from Columbia College with a major in Women and Gender Studies.  Dr. Larson received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, a master’s degree in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health, and a master’s degree in health sciences from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.  She trained in adult psychiatry at the Harvard Longwood residency program, and completed her training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Larson remained at Johns Hopkins as a full-time faculty member, where she conducted research in the area of access to care for under-served and minority populations.  Her publications have covered topics including barriers to behavioral healthcare for children and adolescents, parents’ perceptions of pediatricians providing behavioral healthcare, and the importance of involvement of youth and family voice in service development and provision.

After leaving Johns Hopkins, Dr. Larson became Medical Director for the Arlington County Community Services Board in Virginia.  As Medical Director for a county behavioral health system, she led initiatives in integrated primary care, evidence-based medication management, medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders, and organizational management in behavioral health settings.  Most recently, Dr. Larson has served as a consulting psychiatrist for an integrated behavioral health program at a Federally Qualified Health Center in the state of Maryland.  In that role, she provided education to primary care providers, curbside consultations, and direct clinical care.  She has been an active member with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and served as co-chair of the Committee on Systems of Care for youth with serious emotional disturbances.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Larson who will be joining CMHS this September.

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The “B” in LGBT: Bisexual People and Behavioral Health

By: Amy Andre, MBA, MA, member of SAMHSA’s Sexual and Gender Minority Interest Group

From September 21-27, we celebrate Bisexuality Awareness Week.  In honor of this upcoming event, I’d like to talk about the “B” in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community.  Did you know that, of all those who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, half identify as bisexual? That means the “B” the largest segment of the LGBT community.

Bisexual people are people who are attracted to more than one gender (although not necessarily at the same time, to the same extent, or in the same way). Like gay and lesbian people, many bisexual people experience discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and this discrimination can have an impact on health.  According to data from the National Health Information Survey and others, bisexual people face discrimination and higher rates of mental and/or substance use disorders compared to people who are not bisexual.

For years, researchers at medical schools and public health institutions have shown that, compared to their heterosexual peers, gay and lesbian people have higher levels of depression and suicidality, as well as smoking, alcohol and substance misuse, and that these are, in part, linked to homophobia and its effect on behavioral health.  More recent research shows that the same is true for bisexual people, and to an even larger extent.  In addition, the literature shows that bisexual people, compared to their gay and lesbian peers, are less likely to be out of the closet, which might have implications for behavioral health.  One goal of Bisexuality Awareness Week is to call attention to the health disparities faced by this community, and another goal is to highlight the importance of targeted, culturally competent programs to reduce those disparities.

The Administration has taken important steps towards meeting the unique needs of the bisexual community.  Last year the White House’s Office of Public Engagement convened a panel of bisexual community leaders and bisexual health experts to participate in a roundtable discussion on the topic.  And this year, SAMHSA will be hosting a “brown bag” training event for staff to learn about behavioral health in the bisexual community.  SAMHSA has also recommended that sexual orientation (including bisexuality) survey items be added to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, beginning in 2015.

People who identify as bisexual face challenges, but getting the behavioral health care they need doesn’t have to be one of them.  By educating  health care providers about including culturally competent support services to the bisexual community, SAMHSA is working to fulfill its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

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Join the Recovery Month Movement

By: Michael Duffy, RN, BSN, SAMHSA Region VI Regional Administrator

Throughout the month of September, communities across the country have come together to observe the 25th annual National Recovery Month (Recovery Month). Community events are the cornerstone of Recovery Month and provide a setting celebrate the successes of people who are in recovery. As individuals and communities across the country unite to speak up about behavioral health conditions and the reality of recovery, I invite you to join the movement and participate in Recovery and Health: Echoing Through the CommunityExternal Web Site Policy, a nationwide webcast.

On Monday, September 15, 2014 at 12:00 p.m. EST, a panel of national experts and experienced practitioners in recovery and health will kick-off an interactive discussion about integrating recovery into state and community systems. During this discussion, participants can send live questions to the panelists via email or on Twitter (@samhsagovExternal Web Site Policy). At the end of the panel discussion, echo site participants are invited to lead their own discussion using the information from the webcast to brainstorm and create an action plan to integrate recovery into their community.

Get involved and join the voices for recovery!

Register your Echo Site now! Register as an individual now!

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