Summary of Activities that Continue
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will continue substance abuse and mental health programs, including those that provide critical behavioral health resources in the event of a natural or human-caused disaster such as Disaster Behavioral Health response teams, the 24/7 365 day-a-year Disaster Distress Helpline that provides crisis counseling to people experiencing emotional distress after a disaster, and the 988/Suicide Lifeline to connect people in crisis with life-saving resources.
SAMHSA will continue activities supported with BSCA advanced appropriations and 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 crisis intervention services. 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 988 and Behavioral Health Crisis Services program, 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 BSCA advanced appropriations. SAMHSA does not anticipate that COVID-19, BSCA or grant activities will be impacted during a short-term lapse.
Summary of Contingency Staffing Plan
In the event of a lapse of appropriations, a total of 127 SAMHSA staff will be retained including 52 exempt staff (their activities or position are already funded or otherwise exempt) and 75 who are excepted (their activities are deemed necessary by implication, or for the safety of human life).
The 52 exempt SAMHSA staff is the one Presidentially appointed Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse and employees that are funded via BSCA advanced appropriations and carry-over.
A total of 75 (16%) SAMHSA staff are considered excepted and can legally continue their activities in the absence of appropriations. These staff fall into the following categories: 1) 27 staff performing activities authorized by necessary implication for orderly phase-down and suspension of operations. 2) 4 staff involved in the safety of human life or the protection of property. 3) 3 staff involved in activities to protect property, such as physical infrastructure and maintain computer infrastructure or provide cybersecurity. 4). SAMHSA has Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officers and one anticipated Public Health Service Commissioned Corp Officer who will work under this exception (41).
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 41 Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officers who will continue working under this exception.