SAMHSA FAILS SERIOUSLY MENTALLY ILL
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was created by Congress to “reduce the impact of…mental illness on America’s communities”. Congress directed it “to target … mental health services to the people most in need”. SAMHSA has failed to do either.
SAMHSA largely ignores the most significant impacts of mental illness on the communities, specifically violence, incarceration, hospitalization, homlessness and suicide. Instead, SAMHSA focuses on metrics like 'feeling of empowerment' 'hopefullness' and other softer outcomes.
SAMHSA also ignores the "people most in need", i.e, the 5-9% NIMH defines as having serious mental illness. Instead, SAMHSA focuses on "improving mental wellness" for all Americans. This leaves the seriously ill underserved.
Some Examples of SAMHSA Mismanagment
SAMHSA supports and funds groups that don’t believe mental illness exists.
SAMHSA’s Guide to Mental Illness Awareness Week suggests schools invite the following organizations into classrooms to teach students about mental illness:
- Mindfreedom: “There is not conclusive evidence or consensus that mental illness exists”
- The Icarus Project: “We believe these experiences (commonly diagnosed and labeled as psychiatric conditions) are mad gifts needing cultivation and care, rather than diseases or disorders.”
- National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery: “NCMHR holds that psychiatric labeling is a pseudoscientific practice of limited value in helping people recover.”
SAMHSA certifies programs as being evidence based even when they do not help seriously mentally ill and/or lack evidence.
SAMHSA funds groups lobbying to prevent mentally ill from being treated until after they become ‘danger to self or others’
SAMHSA's 600 person staff does not include a a medical doctor specializing in mental illness and only one on substance abuse.
SAMHSA encourages states to spend a portion of their $2 billion in block grants on preventing mental illness when we do not know how to prevent mental illness.
SAMHSA wastes money on make-work projects and useless publications.
SAMHSA’s Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness program (PAIMI/P&A) lobbies to get mentally ill who need hospital care out of hospitals and treatment
SAMHSA refuses to support evidence based programs that do reduce violence, incarceration, hospitalization and homlessness like Assisted Outpatient Treatment
Numerous attempts to engage SAMHSA in addressing these issues through the media, letter writing, congressional hearings, and meetings with Administrator Pamela Hyde have failed. At a recent meeting held for that purpose, Administrator Hyde told participants that addressing violence by people with serious mental illness is stigmatizing to those without mental illness and therefore would not be addressed; more money was needed from Congress in order for SAMHSA to focus on serious mental illness instead of mental wellness; and generally failed to see any problem with the status quo. Hence we are making our documentation public.
SAMHSA Response to Congressional Questions
Solutions to problems at SAMHSA:
1. Replace the current administrator, Pamela Hyde with someone who has passion for improving the lives of people with serious mental illness and knows how to do it. Perhaps an M.D. We note that NIMH had similar mission-creep problems prior to the arrival of Dr. Thomas Insel, but he was able to refocus the agency back to serious mental illness.
2. Euthenasia and reincarnation: Eliminate the agency and place any mental illness programs worth preserving within other agencies with greater dedication to improving the lives of people with serious mental illness. Ex. NIMH, CDC, DOJ, NIDA, etc. .
3. Legislatively elminate SAMHSA's ability to divert money intended to help people with serious mental illness. Codify a definition of serious mental illness using the NIMH defintion as a model and require SAMHSA to spend their funds helping that target population rather than all Americans who can benefit from increased wellness or improved mental health.
America has been rocked with everyday and high-profile incidents of violence involving individuals with serious mental illness who were not being treated. President Obama has called on SAMHSA to lead a national dialogue on this, and they are not up to the task. As a result, there are now three times as many persons with mental illness incarcerated as hospitalized. This is largely due to SAMHSA encouraging activities that make it more difficult to provide treatment for people with serious mental illness.