SAMHSA Grant funds efforts to improve mental health care for people with Serious Mental Illness

Department news | September 30, 2018

In an effort to strengthen the delivery of effective mental health care across the United States, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has established a national Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) Network, with Centers in each of ten regions in the US. Under the leadership of Lydia Chwastiak, MD, MPH, Principal Investigator and Center Co-Director and Maria Monroe-DeVita, PhD, Center Co-Director, the Northwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (NW-MHTTC) based at the University of Washington will represent SAMHSA’s Region 10 (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington). Drs. Chwastiak and Monroe-DeVita are joined by Sarah Kopelovich, PhD, Director of Training, and Eric Bruns, PhD, Director of Evaluation, as well as faculty from the University of Washington Department of Health Services and School of Social Work, Portland State University and Washington State University.

The NW-MHTTC will provide training and technical assistance in evidence-based practices (EBP) to behavioral health and primary care providers, and school and social service staff whose work has the potential to improve behavioral health outcomes for individuals with or at risk of developing serious mental illness. Goals of the program include ensuring the availability and delivery of free, publicly-available training and technical assistance; heightening the awareness, knowledge, and skills of the mental health workforce; accelerating the adoption and implementation of mental health-related evidence-based practices; and fostering alliances among culturally diverse mental health providers, policy makers, family members, and clients.

A second, supplemental award led by Dr. Bruns focuses on school-aged youth and young adults who are experiencing a mental health disorder, or are at risk of developing such a disorder. Through this supplement, the NW-MHTTC will provide technical assistance and training to the four state region on evidence-based, school-based and school-linked mental health services. These efforts will be led by the UW School Mental Health Assessment, Research, and Training (SMART) Center, a national leader in developing and supporting implementation of evidence-based practices in schools, including prevention, early intervention, and intensive supports. Goals include providing direct training and technical assistance on implementation of mental health services in schools and school systems; providing training and technical assistance on the importance of mental health service provision in schools and linkages to community-based mental health services; and disseminating information related to best models of school mental health provision, including ways in which these models can be implemented and sustained.

The NW-MHTTC will begin providing services in November 2018.