Federal health officials have frozen the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) housed within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The registry was launched in 1997 to provide a robust database containing hundreds of professional mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programs already examined and validated by an independent contractor. Mental health and addiction treatment professionals would rely on this registry for information about effective therapies and other useful resources.
Although authorities didn’t offer any valid explanation on why the registry was frozen, the SAMHSA said the contract for running the database expired, and a new entity would soon come into being. SAMHSA spokesman Brian Dominguez told the Washington Post the agency was striving to “institute an even more scientifically rigorous approach to better inform the identification and implementation of evidence-based programs and practices.” However, authorities didn’t provide any specific details on how or when the new entity will take over or whether the currently validated programs would be included in the new database.
Speaking about the freezing of the website, Catherine Tucker, president of the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling, said there doesn’t seem to be any valid reason for the freezing of the registry. She added that the NREPP is an “impartial, non-partisan, trustworthy source that represents thousands and thousands of hours of work.”
In the light of the recent suspension of the registry, mental health professionals nationwide and members of the Congress have expressed concern over the possibility of losing the data for good. Besides, they also fear that the absence of an external agency to run the database could eventually politicize the program evaluation process.
The National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory will be the new entity within the SAMHSA to take over the national registry. President Donald Trump has nominated psychiatrist Elinore McCance-Katz to head the new entity. McCance-Katz is also a former medical director of the SAMHSA. In testimony to the Congress, McCance-Katz said the main objective of the Policy Lab is to “periodically review programs and activities” concerned with prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders.
Mental health is important
Coping with a wide range of emotional setbacks, fluctuating moods and problems thrown by life that seem beyond one’s ability to control can affect anyone’s mental health adversely, pushing them toward self-medication in the form of substance abuse, alcohol or even extreme measures such as suicide. In such moments, assistance from a qualified and empathetic mental health professional can help alleviate an individual with a mental problem to regain control of his or her life. Millions of Americans nationwide are affected by wide ranging mental health conditions every year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about one in five adult Americans experiences mental health problem in a given year. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dysthymic disorder, mood disorders, post traumatic stress disorder PTSD) and eating disorders are some of the common mental health conditions affecting Americans, and require diagnosis and professional help for a timely breakthrough.
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