Summary of Activities that Continue
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will continue substance abuse and mental health programs vital to the safety and protection of Americans. This includes programs that provide critical behavioral health resources in the event of a natural or human-caused disaster such as Disaster Behavioral Health response teams, and the 24/7 365 day-a-year Disaster Distress Helpline that provides crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress after a disaster. SAMHSA will also continue previously funded operations and utilize available balances to provide important resources to those seeking help for addiction and behavioral health concerns through the Treatment Services Locator program, the Treatment Referral Line, and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. SAMHSA will have staff ready to receive and properly route any letters indicating suicidal ideation to the appropriate local Suicide Lifeline. SAMHSA will also review opioid prescription limit waivers. Most SAMHSA grants awarded in the prior year will have funds that remain available to be spent by the grantee, including for example the State Opioid Response Grant program and the mental health and substance abuse block grants. The retained Commissioned Corps Officers (CCO) will assist with maintaining any required grants programs/activities, including grants funded with COVID-19 supplemental funding. SAMHSA does not anticipate that COVID-19 activities or grants that will be impacted during a short-term lapse.
Summary of Contingency Staffing Plan
In the event of a lapse of appropriations, a total of 62 (13%) SAMHSA staff will be retained including one exempt staff (their activities or position are already funded or otherwise exempt) and 61 (12%) who are excepted (their activities are deemed necessary by implication, or for the safety of human life).
The one exempt SAMHSA staff is the Presidentially-appointed Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
A total of 61 (12%) SAMHSA staff are considered excepted and can legally continue their activities in the absence of appropriations. These staff fall into two categories; 1) those whose work is necessary for the safety of human life, 2) those whose work is "necessarily implied" from the authorized continuation of or the need to phase down other activities.
Excepted SAMHSA staff will continue to perform vital tasks related to imminent threats to human health or life including ensuring the ongoing operations of the Suicide Prevention Hotline reviewing suicide letters and ensuring they are quickly addressed by Suicide Prevention Centers, and reviewing opioid prescription limit waivers. Additionally the Commissioned Corps Officers assigned to SAHMSA will continue providing critical behavioral health services in response to disasters. Excepted staff will also support the orderly phase down and suspension of non-funded SAMHSA activities. SAMHSA has 32 Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officers who will continue working under this exception.