Former SAMHSA Chief Medical Officer exposé of SAMHSA
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was created by Congress to “reduce the impact of…mental illness on America’s communities.” And Congress directed it “to target … mental health services to the people most in need”. SAMHSA has failed to do either.
SAMHSA does not focus on meaningful metrics like reducing rates of violence, incarceration, hospitalization, homelessness and suicide. Instead, SAMHSA focuses on soft outcomes like ‘feeling of empowerment’ and ‘hopefulness.’
SAMHSA ignores the 4% of adults with serious mental illness. Instead, SAMHSA focuses on “improving mental wellness” for all Americans.
Some Examples of SAMHSA Mismanagement
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: Had a statement on their website (recently removed), that “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 only includes one medical doctor specializing in mental illness.
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 homelessness like Assisted Outpatient Treatment and hospitals.
The Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee held hearings on SAMHSA and ordered a GAO report that found SAMHSA fails to coordinate activities. The former SAMHSA administrator testified that SAMHSA deserves an “A.”
Congress passed The 21st Century Cures Act creating an Assistant Secretary of Mental Health to oversee SAMHSA. The President should appoint a doctor who wants to focus SAMHSA on serious mental illness or someone from law enforcement like a judge, sheriff or police chief to that position. 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.
If that doesn’t work, Congress should consider eliminating the agency and placing 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.