Mental illness occurs in one out of five individuals in the U.S. during any given year, and an estimated 22.5 million adults aged 12 and older self-report needing treatment for alcohol or illicit drug use. SAMHSA estimates that by 2020 mental illnesses and substance use disorders (SUD) will exceed physical diseases as the most significant causes of disability worldwide, making it a pervasive and demanding public health challenge. Owing to the need to strengthen the nation’s public health infrastructure and ensure a competent, current, and connected public health system to address mental health and SUDs as a pervasive public health challenge, the National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) offers a proposal to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Capacity-Building Assistance (CBA) program for Category C, Nongovernmental Public Health Components.
The proposed project’s purpose is to strengthen leadership and workforce development of community behavioral health organizations (CBHO), the target population, and facilitate collaboration between CBHOs, public health departments (PHD) and public health agencies (PHA) to improve the health and wellness of individuals with mental illness and SUDs.
The National Council proposes to strengthen leadership and workforce capacity within the public health system through the key activity of training CBHOs, PHDs, and PHAs on a set of integrated public health and behavioral health core competencies and cross-cutting skillsets through an Integrated Leadership Training Institute (ILTI). Through the ILTI, the National Council seeks to achieve the following outcomes: improve job performance to lead to better holistic care for individuals living with and/or at risk for mental illness and/or SUD; and increase leadership capacity to identify and prioritize public health needs of individuals with mental illness and SUD thereby increasing the capabilities of the public health systems workforce to deliver high-quality essential public health services. These short-term outcomes, developed, strengthened and supported by The National Council, will ultimately strengthen the nation’s public health infrastructure; ensure a competent, current, and connected public health system; and improve delivery of the 10 essential public health services.
Ultimately, strengthening leadership and workforce competencies is a key strategy to improving integration and collaboration across CBHOs--the backbone of the public health system for addressing mental illnesses, SUDs and supports to address social determinants of health (SDOH), and other parts of the public health system (PHDs and PHAs) to improve the health and wellness of individuals with mental illnesses and SUDs.