Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Topics on this page: Summary of Activities that Continue | Summary of Contingency Staffing Plan

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 and Bi-partisan Safer Communities Act supplemental funding. SAMHSA does not anticipate that COVID-19 activities or grants that will be impacted during a short-term lapse. SAMHSA currently has ~50 COVID-19 Temporary staff members providing direct support to SAMHSA's COVID-19 activities across the agency. SAMHSA does not anticipate one Commissioned Corp Officer deployment to support HHS's COVID-19 activities.

Summary of Contingency Staffing Plan

In the event of a lapse of appropriations, a total of 66 (10%) SAMHSA staff will be retained including one exempt staff (their activities or position are already funded or otherwise exempt) and 65 (10%) who are excepted (their activities are deemed necessary by implication, or for the safety of human life).

Exempt Staff:

The one exempt SAMHSA staff is the Presidentially-appointed Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

Excepted Staff:

A total of 65 (10%) 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 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 36 Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officers who will continue working under this exception.

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