U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Releases Roadmap to Better Integrate Mental Health and Substance Use into Larger Health Care System

There’s no denying the pandemic has altered the course of many Americans’ everyday lives, including a continuing negative impact on multiple areas of health

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration to help fight some of those effects by addressing mental health and substance use as part of the country’s overall approach to health care. The roadmap comes as a result of Secretary Xavier Becerra’s findings after completing a National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health. During the tour, he met with students, hospital workers, crisis center workers and more to hear directly from Americans about the behavioral health challenges they and their communities face. 

Through the implementation of its roadmap, HHS aims to address barriers to fully integrated behavioral health care, and in doing so, support a more integrated and equitable health care system. Within the roadmap, HHS highlights eight major challenges to behavioral health integration, such as stigma and mistrust, inconsistent use of data, inequitable engagement of underserved populations and more. The roadmap also shares important efforts the Department is already working on to overcome these challenges, like the HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy and a new three-digit crisis line known as 988.

The roadmap provides an overview of how HHS aims to advance integrated care within the three pillars outlined in President Biden’s Strategy to Address our National Mental Health Crisis (the “President’s Strategy”) — Strengthen System Capacity, Connect Americans to Care, and Support Americans by Creating Healthy Environments — presented in his first State of the Union address.