Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Through its three centers and supporting offices, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) engages in program activities to carry out its vision: a life in the community for everyone. To realize this goal, SAMHSA has sharply focused its mission on building resilience and facilitating recovery for people with or at risk for mental or substance use disorders.
With a budget of over $3 billion, SAMHSA funds and administers a rich portfolio of grant programs, including the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act grant program, and supports states’ efforts to expand and enhance prevention programs and improve the quality, availability, and range of mental health services.
In recent testimony before a Congressional Committee, SAMHSA released a statement highlighting key issues and relevant information about screening and the importance of early detection of mental health problems. Highlights from the statement follow:
- In this country, as well as in many countries around the world, health and mental health screening has been a well-accepted process for detecting problems early and helping identify individuals who may be at risk for particular problems so that they can receive appropriate care. Screening is an element of a public health approach to assure the best health and mental health outcomes for the nation.
- Screening can take place in a variety of settings for many reasons: blood pressure checks at the grocery store; routine vision and hearing evaluations at schools; colon, prostate and breast cancer assessments at a doctor’s office or clinic; or self-screening for depression using web-based technology. Pediatricians, using standardized checklists as part of a routine physical examination, can pick up early warning signs of emotional problems that warrant further assessment and care.
- A growing number of health insurers are adopting the long-standing practice by health maintenance organizations to cover screening and early intervention services because these practices have proven beneficial for both health and economic reasons. Screening has been incorporated into many public programs as well. Since 1965, the Medicaid program has included screening for children for both physical and behavioral health conditions through its Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) program, helping to reduce risk factors for illness in a particularly vulnerable population. Other Federal programs, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Head Start have for decades been screening children to identify developmental, learning, or behavioral concerns. These programs have strong public support and have demonstrated that early identification and intervention help children progress on a positive course for life.
Download this statement in its entirety.