On May 11, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) joined other groups educating Congress on the benefits of the Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act. As noted in the letter, the proposal would extend the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) “…to be available following Emergency Declarations, not only for Major Disaster Declarations.” Previously, NASADAD sent letters to the House author of the bill — Representative Pressley (D-MA) on October 14, 2021 and the Senate leaders on the bill – Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Portman (R-OH) on February 22, 2022.
On April 5, Cassandra Price (SSA, GA), Director of Georgia’s Office of Addictive Diseases, as well as Past President of NASADAD’s Board of Directors, served as a witness for the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health’s hearing, “Communities in Need: Legislation to Support Mental Health and Well-Being.” The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health is led by Chairwoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (R-KY). If you missed the hearing and would like to watch it, a recording is available here. Director Price’s written testimony is attached and available here. (Director Price began her remarks at 3:31:40 of the hearing.)
Director Price’s testimony covered the following areas:
The critical role of the State alcohol and drug agencies in managing the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant and State Opioid Response Grant program.
The role of State alcohol and drug agencies in planning substance use disorder (SUD) service delivery, treatment, recovery, as well as ensuring quality and accountability.
The impact of COVID-19 in Georgia.
Promoting cross-agency collaboration across State government given the impact of alcohol and other drug use has on other sectors.
Georgia’s work to partner with community stakeholders, provider networks, physicians, colleges and universities, and more to reduce the number of overdose deaths, provide access to those needing treatment, and increase the availability of recovery support in communities
Continued efforts to support the provider community on delivering prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
The importance of delivering culturally competent services.
Her recommendations to the Committee included:
Promote and ensure a strong Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that serves as the lead federal agency across the federal government on substance use disorder service delivery.
Ensure that federal policy and resources related to substance use disorders are routed through the State alcohol and drug agency.
Continued investments in the SAPT Block Grant while maintaining maximum flexibility.
Promote sustained and predictable funds through three- to five-year discretionary grants.
Continue to work to address the opioid crisis but also elevate efforts to address all substance use disorders, including those linked to alcohol and other substances.
Provide SAMHSA the authority and resources to help address the nation’s substance use disorder workforce crisis.
Ensure that initiatives designed to implement 988 and crisis services improvement to specifically include programs and strategies to address substance use disorders.
Maintain as much flexibility as possible in the use of SAPT Block Grant funds.
Other witnesses included:
Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Carole Johnson, M.A., Administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration
Rebecca W. Brendel, M.D., J.D., President-Elect, American Psychiatric Association
Sandy L. Chung, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.C.H.E., President-Elect, American Academy of Pediatrics
Steven Adelsheim, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Children’s Health
Debra Pinals, M.D., Medical Director, Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, On behalf of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
LeVail W. Smith, C.P.S.S., Peer Support Specialist Instructor and Mentor