Behavioral Health

Governors play a critical role in addressing behavioral health in their state, including both mental health and substance use disorders. The Behavioral Health Program supports governor’s offices by providing evidence-informed promising and best practices that promote behavioral health to improve the lives and wellbeing of their constituents.

Since 2012, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices has supported states in their efforts to help prevent and treat substance use disorders and overdose. The Behavioral Health team leads several initiatives that address substance use and related consequences and is supporting efforts to promote mental health and wellbeing.

Featured Initiatives

Implementing a Continuum of Care to Prevent Overdose Policy Academy

To support states with operationalizing recommendations from the publication, “Implementing a Continuum of Care to Prevent Overdose: A Roadmap for Governors” the Behavioral Health team is leading a policy academy for states. The Center will support up to four states with implementation of a policy recommendation from the roadmap through the Policy Academy, which will kick off in January 2024.


Leveraging EMS to Address Overdose Learning Collaborative

This learning collaborative will support up to four states with exploring ways EMS can expand their scope of practice to address the overdose crisis. Policies may include mechanisms that authorize EMS to dispense buprenorphine, divert patients from emergency departments and allow EMS to leave naloxone kits behind on the scenes of overdose.


Implementing State Strategies to Address Infectious Disease Due to Drug Use Learning Collaborative

This learning collaborative will support up to four states with exploring interventions that address the intersection of infectious diseases, including congenital syphilis, hepatitis-c, HIV, and drug use. This virtual collaborative kicked-off in December 2023 and will wrap up in July ‘24.



Implementing a Trauma-Informed Approach to Address Addiction and Overdose Policy Academy

This policy academy will support up to four states with identifying strategies that support a trauma-informed approach to addressing addiction and overdose. States will convene for a kick-off meeting in February 2024 and will wrap up in July 2024.


Meet The Team

  • Marianne Gibson, Program Director
  • Dana Heilman, Senior Policy Analyst
  • Alex Entner, Policy Analyst

Our Focus Areas

  • Sharing evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery strategies/ programs.
  • Using data and evaluation in policy development to promote behavioral health.
  • Mitigation of trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences to prevent substance use.
  • Promoting equity across the substance use continuum of care programs and policies.
  • Expanding access to medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD).
  • Identifying trends in polysubstance use and identifying comprehensive responses to addiction.
  • Addressing infectious diseases related to SUD/OUD.
  • Cannabis (Emerging)

Services

  • Strategic planning facilitation and best practice guidance on behavioral health topics
  • Strategic guidance, feedback, and meeting facilitation support to relevant advisors
  • Annual Health and Human Services Summit
  • Health Policy Advisors Network
  • Opioid State Action Network (OSAN)
  • Multi-state projects
  • Customized research briefs and best practice presentations upon request

Behavioral Health Library

Governors Support Mental Health Awareness Month

Governors Support Mental Health Awareness Month

Governors are taking actions to acknowledge May as Mental Health Awareness Month. Founded in 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month aims to provide education, reduce stigma, and advocate for policies that ...
Recognizing Fentanyl Awareness Day

Recognizing Fentanyl Awareness Day

May 7, 2024, is National Fentanyl Awareness Day, which aims to raise awareness of the ongoing overdose crisis along with the dangers of fentanyl and its devastating impact on communities ...
State Considerations for the 42 CFR Part 8 Rule

State Considerations for the 42 CFR Part 8 Rule

On Thursday, April 18, 2024, the National Governors Association (NGA) health team hosted individuals representing 20 states at a virtual meeting of the Opioid State Action Network (OSAN). This month’s ...
The Emerging Field of Behavioral Health Paraprofessionals

The Emerging Field of Behavioral Health Paraprofessionals

State Regulatory Approaches for Peer Specialists, Community Health Workers and Behavioral Health Technicians/Aides (Download) Historically, the workforce supporting behavioral health has generally included health professionals with a master’s degree or ...
Governors Prioritize Behavioral Health in 2024 State of the State Addresses

Governors Prioritize Behavioral Health in 2024 State of the State Addresses

Behavioral health and mental health challenges impact every community – urban, suburban, and rural, east, west, north, and south. There are no geographic boundaries or political party lines. Across the ...
Governors’ Health Priorities In 2024 State Of The State Addresses

Governors’ Health Priorities In 2024 State Of The State Addresses

April 1-7 is National Public Health Week 2024. This year’s theme is “Protecting, Connecting and Thriving: We Are All Public Health.”  This holistic approach to public health was certainly evident ...
Governors Continue to Use Emergency Powers to Address the Drug Overdose Epidemic

Governors Continue to Use Emergency Powers to Address the Drug Overdose Epidemic

Governors continue to take executive action and use emergency powers to respond to the nation’s drug overdose epidemic. Recently, Governors in at least two states have issued emergency orders addressing ...
NGA Supports States to Disrupt the Linkage Between Trauma and Substance Use Disorder

NGA Supports States to Disrupt the Linkage Between Trauma and Substance Use Disorder

The National Governors Association (NGA) welcomed state teams from New Mexico and West Virginia to Washington, D.C., February 15-16. These teams have been selected to work with NGA over six ...
State Strategies To Address The Impact Of Covid-19 On Maternal And Child Populations: Behavioral Health

State Strategies To Address The Impact Of Covid-19 On Maternal And Child Populations: Behavioral Health

This publication explores strategies Governors and state leaders employed to address the longstanding issues associated with behavioral health among the maternal and child health (MCH) population. (Download) This is the ...