Bringing Innovation to Mental Health Services

05/22/2015 10:18 am ET | Updated May 22, 2016

Over the decades, we have made many improvements in care for people living with mental illness. In addition to the scientific discoveries about the brain funded by the National Institutes of Health that are improving medical treatments, and the legislative milestones such as the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act that are improving access to medical care, SAMHSA has helped foster innovation in the way mental health services are delivered through data, practice improvement, public education, and a broad portfolio of grant programs.

SAMHSA is a small federal agency with a big national mission.   By working in partnership with states and local organizations, strategically-placed federal funds can have a significant, lasting impact on the delivery of mental health care services.  SAMHSA grants lead the way for the development of systems of care for children with serious emotional disturbances, implementation of evidence-based treatment approaches for early psychosis, suicide and homelessness prevention, integration of health care services, and expansion of additional treatment capacity for mental illness and addiction, all while helping communities and families build resilience and get people the assistance they need.

Responsible stewardship of those federal funds through sound grants management has always been a focus at SAMHSA.  We are taking an enterprise-wide look at how priorities, processes, people, and systems work together to design and implement the changes needed in the mental health care delivery system.

Last fall, SAMHSA began a comprehensive examination of the formal and informal processes currently guiding our work, beginning with our business operations.  This effort includes revising and updating our Government Project Officer (GPO) Handbook, which guides SAMHSA staff regarding their roles and responsibilities for a full spectrum of grant management activities, from the pre-award phase to post-award monitoring.  The revised GPO Handbook will help ensure the best use of SAMHSA dollars and we expect this will yield value not only for internal operations, but also for SAMHSA's external stakeholders.

Strengthened information technology systems are being put into place to enhance the efforts of our staff and to improve the efficiency of our current processes.  For example, SAMHSA is creating and deploying a consolidated electronic grants enterprise management system and a new on-line common data platform.  Once these systems are both fully implemented, they will be used to manage grants, link financial and performance data, and improve accountability.

Everything we do to improve the quality of our grants management and oversight helps ensure that the resources we make available are used effectively.  At SAMHSA, all of us are committed to our mission to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Read more about SAMHSA's efforts to improve grants mangement and oversight.