Mental health services are an important pre-requisite for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. The mental health practitioner’s role has become more meaningful as the complexities surrounding treatment necessitate caring for the psychological aspects of HIV care, especially as it relates to aspects such as client medication adherence.
Mental health practitioners need specific training in working with HIV-affected populations. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) devotes efforts to address the overlap between mental illness and HIV/AIDS through a program designed to educate clinicians in the neuropsychiatric, ethical, adherence, and psychosocial aspects of HIV/AIDS. The Program, which has been funded under HIV/AIDS Education, furthers the development of a skilled and knowledgeable mental health and behavioral health care workforce.
Since the Program was launched under SAMHSA, more than 130,000 psychiatrists, psychologists, medical students, social workers, and allied behavioral health providers have participated in professional education and training activities. Additionally, the Program since 2015 has produced more than 50 virtual and in-person trainings forums and has created widely-available evidence-based guidance for mental health professionals. The Program is essential to increasing the availability of well-trained clinicians, and preparing the next generation of health care professionals to deliver comprehensive and responsive mental health services to the nation’s most vulnerable communities at risk for or heavily burdened by HIV infection.
NASW‘s HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project is a grantee of the SAMHSA program. For more background on this issue, visit The Body Pro article by NASW Spectrum Project Trainer, David Fawcett, PhD, LCSW.
The Senate will be considering whether to provide funding for the SAMHSA HIV/AIDS Education Program for the 2018 fiscal year. In FY2017 the Senate Appropriations Committee committed$771,000 for SAMHSA to administer these education programs. The House Appropriations Committee Report omitted the dedicated funding for this program in FY2018.
Write your Senators today and ask them to maintain funding for the SAMHSA HIV/AIDS Education Program for FY2018.