Skip Navigation

Spring 2013, Volume 21, Number 2

View from the Administrator
Youth Behavioral Health: Strengthening Families, Schools, Communities

By Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., SAMHSA Administrator

When people with mental health conditions or substance use disorders do not receive the proper treatment and supportive services they need, crisis situations can arise affecting individuals, families, schools, and communities. By working together and utilizing available resources, we can identify mental health and substance use issues early and help young people get the services they need before crisis situations develop. SAMHSA has made it a top priority to help youth, families, schools, and communities understand and establish the prevention approaches we know can be effective.

Portrait of Pamela S. Hyde, SAMHSA Administrator

Two SAMHSA programs featured in SAMHSA News exemplify the kind of comprehensive, public health approach that reaches people early—in families, schools, and communities—throughout the country.

Over the last two decades, SAMHSA's Statewide Family Network has supported state-based family organizations that focus on improving programs serving children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances. The network achieves that goal by strengthening relationships among family members and coalitions consisting of treatment and service providers, policymakers and families. Recognizing that family members can be the best "change agents," the network promotes the idea of family-driven care, giving families a central role in deciding how to care for their children in their communities and in shaping policies that affect all children with serious emotional disturbances.

Since 1999, SAMHSA's Safe Schools/Healthy Students initiative has expanded efforts into schools and included community partners. Designed to promote healthy child development, mental health, and safe school environments, the program brings together representatives from schools, law enforcement, the mental health system, families, and other community groups, as well as youth themselves. These partners then develop comprehensive plans that include early childhood social and emotional learning programs, mental health services and support for students, substance use prevention efforts, and violence prevention activities.

These programs work. Noting our nation's long history of addressing community challenges through collaboration and stakeholder networks, a 2011 White House report, Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism, applauded Safe Schools/Healthy Students as a model program. A plan released by the President in January, Now Is the Time, would build on lessons learned from Safe Schools/Healthy Students. The President's Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposed Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) which would help create state-school-community partnerships to promote efforts to recognize young people who need help and ensure they are referred to mental health services. Project AWARE would also provide funding for mental health and substance abuse literacy and awareness to help people know when they, their loved ones, their neighbors, or their friends need help for a mental health or substance abuse problem.

Activities to promote emotional health and prevent substance use issues in our families, schools, and communities help ensure that all young people get a chance to grow up to be healthy, productive adults. That's the best investment we can make in our country's future.

Share This Article:

Featured Articles
Preventing School Violence: A Sustainable Approach

Preventing School Violence: A Sustainable Approach

When it comes to protecting students from violence, it's not enough to focus only on security measures, such as hiring security guards, locking doors, or developing emergency plans, said Michelle Bechard, lead public health advisor in the Mental Health Promotion Branch of SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services.

View from the Administrator: Diverting Youth from the Juvenile Justice System

View from the Administrator
Youth Behavioral Health: Strengthening Families, Schools, Communities

When people with mental health conditions or substance use disorders do not receive the proper treatment and supportive services they need, crisis situations can arise affecting individuals, families, schools, and communities.

National Dialogue on Mental Health

National Dialogue on Mental Health

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, led by SAMHSA, is spearheading a new national dialogue on mental health proposed by the White House. The U.S. Department of Education is also assisting in the effort.

Boston Marathon Tragedy
Responding to the Boston Marathon Tragedy

Responding to the Boston Marathon Tragedy

In the aftermath of the tragedy at the 2013 Boston Marathon, SAMHSA has been working hard to address the traumatic impact and provide mental health support.
Read more.

Also In This Issue
Family Networks Offer Communities Hope

Family Networks Offer Communities Hope

Joan McGarry spent countless hours meeting with school specialists, requesting that her youngest son be evaluated. "We knew at an early age that he was going to have some struggles" Ms. McGarry recounted.
Read more.

Health Homes: A Strategy to Improve Care

Health Homes: A Strategy to Improve Care

What is a "health home"? Despite its name, a health home is not a physical place. Instead, it's a strategy for helping people with multiple chronic conditions manage those conditions better.
Read more.

SAMHSA Prevention Day 2013

SAMHSA Prevention Day 2013

SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., welcomed over 1,800 prevention professionals, state and community partners, and grantees from around the country for SAMHSA's ninth annual Prevention Day.
Read more.

SAMHSA In Brief
National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, May 9, 2013

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, May 9, 2013

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is a key strategy of the Caring for Every Child's Mental Health Campaign by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

National Prevention Week

National Prevention Week, May 12 – 18, 2013

National Prevention Week is a SAMHSA-supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.

Should You Talk to Someone About a Drug, Alcohol, or Mental Health Problem?

Two New SAMHSA Resources Now Available in Spanish

SAMHSA recently published "Should You Talk to Someone About a Drug, Alcohol, or Mental Health Problem?" and "Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster Fact Sheet" in Spanish. Both products are now available on the SAMHSA Store.