In December 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law. The Cures Act addresses many critical issues including leadership and accountability for behavioral health disorders at the federal level, the importance of evidence-based programs and prevention of mental and substance use disorders, and the imperative to coordinate efforts across government.
The Cures Act established the position of Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. The Cures Act codified the role of the Chief Medical Officer, which provides a clinical perspective at the national level that is imperative to sound stewardship and implementation of high quality, effective services. The Act also codified the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ), which serves as the federal government’s lead agency for behavioral health statistics. CBHSQ conducts national surveys tracking population-level behavioral health issues, including the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
The Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) was created by the Cures Act to ensure better coordination across the entire Federal Government related to addressing the needs of individuals with serious mental illness or serious emotional disorders and their families. The Committee represents collaboration across multiple Departments and fourteen non-federal members representing treatment providers, researchers, patients, families, criminal justice systems, and others also participate in the ISMICC.
The Cures Act created the National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory (Policy Lab). The Policy Lab is working to promote evidence-based practices and service delivery models, and evaluating models that would benefit from further development and expansion. In particular, the Policy Lab is focusing on schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, as well as other serious mental illnesses. It is also focusing on evidence-based practices and services for substance use disorders with an emphasis on opioids.