Acknowledged as the final signed legislation for President Obama’s Administration, the 21st Century Cures Act is important for behavioral health and juvenile justice. The key components of this Act include provisions for:
- Addressing the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic
- Providing funding for the BRAIN initiative and precision medicine
- Improving mental health care by increasing the availability of treatment and improving justice systems to ensure individuals in need of mental health services – actually get it
- Improving clinical trials
- Expanding cancer research and treatment efforts
In addition to the jurisdiction and community level supports, the Act provides structural changes to the way the government oversees and funds behavioral health. The 21st Century Cures Act includes developing a committee for federal agencies such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Department of Justice to work together on behavioral health issues; it designates a new position – Assistance Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, and designates an advisory board for analyzing treatments and services.
I am optimistic this Act will help coordinate funding and improve behavioral health policy, improve practice to identify individuals in need of services, increase equitable access to evidence-based services and supports, reduce stigma associated with accessing services by celebrating those in recovery, and expand the availability of community-based treatment throughout the United States.
2017 is guaranteed to bring many changes. I hope this Act will offer the field the leadership, coordination, funding, and research that will help us continue to improve the work we do in partnership with youth, families, and communities.