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

Resource Guide on State Actions to Prevent and Mitigate Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma

Resource Guide on State Actions to Prevent and Mitigate Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma

States are actively engaged in supporting trauma-informed best practices to mitigate the effects of ACEs and trauma and promote resilience for their communities. (Download) In 2021, the National Governors Association ...
Leveraging Telehealth for Justice-involved Populations With Substance Use Disorders

Leveraging Telehealth for Justice-involved Populations With Substance Use Disorders

This brief reviews activities undertaken by states to expand the use of telehealth for justice-involved individuals with SUDs during the COVID-19 pandemic, share lessons learned, and highlight considerations for Governors ...
Protecting Behavioral Health During Economic Downturns

Protecting Behavioral Health During Economic Downturns

Preventing overdose and other drug-related harms is a priority for the nation's Governors, and the illicit supply of drugs remains more lethal than ever. Economic downturns are linked to adverse ...
Strengthening Youth Mental Health: Training and Supporting Caregivers and Educators

Strengthening Youth Mental Health: Training and Supporting Caregivers and Educators

The fourth and final roundtable of the National Governors Association 2022-2023 Chair’s Initiative on Strengthening Youth Mental Health was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 18, 2023. NGA Chair New ...
Youth Mental Health: Promoting access and affordability of quality treatment and care

Youth Mental Health: Promoting access and affordability of quality treatment and care

NGA Chair New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer hosted the third convening of the NGA Chair’s Initiative: Strengthening Youth Mental Health, in Detroit, Michigan, from April ...
State and Federal Actions to Respond to Xylazine

State and Federal Actions to Respond to Xylazine

Xylazine, also known as “tranq,” is a non-opioid drug commonly used for veterinary purposes which has been showing up more frequently in the illicit drug supply. To address the significant ...
Youth Mental Health: Messaging for Success

Youth Mental Health: Messaging for Success

As part of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s 2022-2023 Chair’s Initiative on Strengthening Youth Mental Health, the National Governors Association hosted a webinar in partnership with the Frameworks Institute on ...
Youth Mental Health and Substance Use

Youth Mental Health and Substance Use

In a time when the drug supply is more lethal than ever, preventing substance use and mitigating risk among youth is a critical bipartisan priority. (Download) Mental health conditions and ...
Governors Lead the Way on Behavioral Health Workforce Needs

Governors Lead the Way on Behavioral Health Workforce Needs

New research from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing shows that 83% of the behavioral health workforce believes providers will not be able to meet the demand for mental health ...