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

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

NGA Welcomes 6 States into Youth Mental Health Policy Academy

NGA Welcomes 6 States into Youth Mental Health Policy Academy

Alabama, Hawai`i, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Virginia will participate in the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) Policy Academy to Drive Thriving Youth Mental Health and ...
First Spouses Hold Meeting to Raise Awareness of Overdose Prevention Initiatives

First Spouses Hold Meeting to Raise Awareness of Overdose Prevention Initiatives

At NGA’s 2024 Winter Meeting, the nation’s First Spouses joined together in a session to raise awareness about overdose prevention initiatives and to receive training on how to use naloxone, ...
Policy Academy on Overdose Prevention Across the Continuum Kick-Off

Policy Academy on Overdose Prevention Across the Continuum Kick-Off

The NGA Center for Best Practices welcomed state teams from Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, and Missouri to Phoenix, Arizona on January 25 and 26, 2024 to kick off the Policy Academy ...
Expanding the Role of EMS to Prevent Overdose

Expanding the Role of EMS to Prevent Overdose

During a six-month Learning Collaborative, NGA is supporting five states—Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin—in their action planning to expand the scope of emergency medical services (EMS) as a ...
A Best Practices Dozen – Publications 2023

A Best Practices Dozen – Publications 2023

As we welcome a new year, it is natural to reflect on the year that has passed. In the realm of information dissemination, this act of reflection takes on particular ...
Policy Academy to Drive Thriving Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing

Policy Academy to Drive Thriving Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing

The NGA Center for Best Practices Children and Families team is excited to announce the Policy Academy to Drive Thriving Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing. Built off the success of ...
2023 Health and Human Services Policy Advisors Institute

2023 Health and Human Services Policy Advisors Institute

The National Governors Association (NGA) was pleased to welcome Governors’ staff from 32 states and four territories to the annual Health and Human Services Policy Advisors Institute in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, ...
American Samoa Supports Behavioral Health and Healthcare Workforce Needs

American Samoa Supports Behavioral Health and Healthcare Workforce Needs

American Samoa is working to address behavioral health and workforce needs in several ways. In 2021, Governor Lemanu P.S. Mauga identified addressing the drug epidemic in American Samoa as a ...
Supporting State-Level Deflection and Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiatives

Supporting State-Level Deflection and Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiatives

In August 2023, state participants from Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania attended the wrap-up meeting for the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Learning Collaborative on Strategies to Support the Development ...