CBC Letter on SAMHSA Budget Cuts and Petition

Institute of the Black World 21st Century

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Institute of the Black World 21st Century
www.ibw21.org | info@ibw21.org | 718-429-1415

 

May 13, 2018

The Honorable Cedric Richmond,
Chair, Congressional Black Caucus,
Cannon House Office Building
420 Independence Ave., SE.,
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Richmond,

On behalf of several black organizations that participate in the Institute of the Black World Black Family Summit, this letter is written to direct your attention, and that of your colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), to the proposed elimination of funding in the FY 2019 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) budget for three initiatives that have been instrumental in achieving health, well-being, healing, and safety in black communities.

These three initiatives that have been supported by SAMHSA for multi-year grants are: 1) the Minority AIDS Initiative; 2) the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP); and 3) Resilience in Communities After Stress and Trauma (RECAST). Zeroing out these programs would be highly destructive to the black community resulting in the undermining of years of progress on eliminating health and mental health disparities, increasing diversity in the behavioral health workforce, and promoting healing in traumatized communities. The following paragraphs describe these programs and their beneficial impact on the black community, to date.

SAMHSA’s Minority AIDS Initiative integrates evidence-based, culturally appropriate mental health and substance use disorder treatment with HIV primary care and substance use and prevention services. The goal of this initiative is to reduce the incidence of HIV and improve overall health outcomes for individuals with serious mental illness or co-occurring disorder. This program, which came into being in the 1990s through the efforts of Congressional leaders such as Congresswoman Maxine Waters and the late Congressman Louis Stokes, is more important now than ever. Despite declines in new HIV infections in recent years, racial and ethnic minority communities continue to experience disproportionate prevalence and impacts of HIV. Loss of this $115 million in funding is an assault on African American and other underserved communities disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.

The Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) funded by SAMHSA was established in 1973. This program was designed to increase diversity in the behavioral healthcare workforce to provide a higher quality of care to African Americans and other racially, ethnically, linguistically, and culturally diverse populations. Over the past 44 years, this program has been described as a national treasure, having produced some of the Nation’s most prominent and accomplished leaders in psychiatry, psychology, social work, psychiatric nursing, and other behavioral health disciplines. MFP alumni have gone on to provide culturally appropriate care to medically underserved communities, conduct behavioral health research, and impart their knowledge as educators to behavioral health professionals in training in academic institutions on how to provide culturally appropriate care.

Cutting off the $11.5 million in SAMHSA funding of the MFP will hamper the response to the opioid crisis our nation is facing as many of the behavioral health practitioners trained by MFP serve as the boots on the ground in underserved communities around the country. Ending the MFP will also interrupt the significant return on investment this program has demonstrated continuously for over four decades and will choke off the pipeline of diverse behavioral health professionals. This cadre of providers is sorely needed now more than ever to meet the needs of diverse communities around the country affected by the opioid crisis and related violence, which is currently being addressed by the Federal Commission on School Safety.

The youngest of these SAMHSA initiatives threatened with defunding is the ReCAST program, established in 2016. ReCAST was created to establish community-based initiatives to meet the needs of and foster resilience in at-risk youth and their families affected by trauma in communities that have experienced civil unrest in recent years. The eight communities that have each received ReCAST grant funding of $1 million per year for five years are: Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; St. Louis, MO; Flint, MI; Milwaukee, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Oakland, CA; and San Antonio, TX.

We are extremely concerned about these cuts and urge you to write a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to Congressional leaders to alert them about the proposed defunding of these critical programs and implore them to generate a groundswell of support for the continuation of funding for these crucial SAMHSA-based programs.

In addition, we ask that you mobilize CBC leaders on the relevant Committees to work to restore the cuts. We would also appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and members of your staff at your earliest convenience to discuss these issues further, to explore other actions that might be taken and answer any questions you may have about the impact of these programs on the black community and the dire consequences posed by their discontinuation. I can be reached at leonard_dunston@yahoo.com and 919 724-6301.

Respectfully Submitted,
Leonard Dunston,
Convener, Institute of the Black World 21st Century Black Family Summit (IBW-BFS)


IBW-BFS Organizations in support include (list is in formation):

  • All Healers Mental Health Alliance
  • Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations
  • Black Psychiatrists of America
  • Center for Nu Leadership on Urban Solutions
  • International Association Black Professional Firefighters
  • International Black Women’s Congress
  • National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice
  • National Association of Black Social Workers
  • National Blacks in Law Enforcement of America
  • National Black United Front
  • National Medical Association

CC:

The Honorable Alma Adams
The Honorable Karen Bass
The Honorable Joyce Beatty
The Honorable Sanford Bishop
The Honorable Lisa Blount Rochester
The Honorable Corey Booker
The Honorable Anthony Brown
The Honorable G. K. Butterfield
The Honorable Andre’ Carson
The Honorable Yvette Clarke
The Honorable William Lacy Clay
The Honorable Emanuel Cleaver
The Honorable James Clyburn
The Honorable Elijah Cummings
The Honorable Danny Davis
The Honorable Val Butler Deming
The Honorable Keith Ellison
The Honorable Dwight Evans
The Honorable Marsha Fudge
The Honorable Al Green
The Honorable Kamala Harris
The Honorable Alcee Hastings
The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
The Honorable Sheila Jackson-Lee
The Honorable Hakeem Jefferies
The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson
The Honorable Hank Johnson
The Honorable Brenda Lawrence
The Honorable Al Lawson
The Honorable Barbara Lee
The Honorable Mia Love
The Honorable John Lewis
The Honorable A. Donald McEachin
The Honorable Gregory Meeks
The Honorable Gwen Moore
The Honorable Donald Payne
The Honorable Stacey Plaskett
The Honorable Bobby Rush
The Honorable Bobby Scott
The Honorable David Scott
The Honorable Terry Sewell
The Honorable Bennie Thompson
The Honorable Marc Veasey
The Honorable Maxine Waters
The Honorable Bonnie Watson Coleman
The Honorable Frederica Wilson

Proposed Budget Cuts at The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Samhsa) Will Hurt the Black Community! Stop These Cuts! Protect the Black Community! Make Your Voice Heard!

Woke black organizations are sounding the alarm on the proposed cuts to the SAMHSA budget for fiscal year 2019 for three programs that have been working to achieve health, well-being, healing, and safety in black communities:

1) Minority AIDS Initiative

2) Minority Fellowship Program (MFP)

3) Resilience in Communities After Stress and Trauma (RECAST)

Eliminating these programs would hurt the black community and undo years of progress toward equality in health and mental health, increasing diversity in the behavioral health workforce, and healing from trauma.  See below for more detail about these programs and how they have benefited the black community.

SAMHSA’s Minority AIDS Initiative has been in place for over 20 years to reduce HIV infection and improve health in individuals with serious mental illness or addictions.  This program, which received $115 million in funding in fiscal year 2018, came into being in the 1990s, is more important now than ever.  Even though new HIV infections have been decreasing in recent years, the black community and other groups continue to carry a heavy burden of HIV infection.

The Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) funded by SAMHSA at $11.5 million per year, was established in 1973 to increase diversity in the behavioral healthcare workforce so that a higher quality of care could be provided to the black community and other communities of color.  This program has produced some of the Nation’s most prominent and accomplished black leaders in psychiatry, psychology, social work, psychiatric nursing, and other behavioral health areas.  The MFP is needed now more than ever to help diverse communities around the country affected by the opioid crisis and violence.

The ReCAST program, started in 2016, was created to meet the needs of at-risk youth and their families affected by trauma in communities that have experienced civil unrest.  The eight communities that have received ReCAST grant funding of $1 million per year for five years are:  Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; St. Louis, MO; Flint, MI; Milwaukee, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Oakland, CA; and San Antonio, TX.

PLEASE JOIN THE INSTITUTE OF THE BLACK WORLD BLACK FAMILY SUMMIT TO PROTEST SAMSHA’S CUTS TO THE MINORITY AIDS INITIATIVE, THE MINORITY FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM, AND THE RECAST PROGRAM. CALL OR WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS TODAY AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.  STOP THESE CUTS! PROTECT THE BLACK COMMUNITY!

“Please call your Congressperson at the US Congress switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask him/her to support this petition. If you don’t know who your Congressperson is, just give the operator your zip code when you call. Thanks.”

IBW21

About IBW21

IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to building the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. to work for the social, political, economic and cultural upliftment, the development of the global Black community and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.