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BREAKING: Administrator of SAMHSA to leave agency this month

August 5, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Contributing Editor
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Pamela Hyde, who has served as administrator of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) since November 2009, will step down from her position as of Aug. 21, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced Aug. 4.

Hyde presided over SAMHSA during a period in which issues such as behavioral health/primary care integration and implementation of insurance parity legislation rose to the fore, but also a tumultuous time in which care providers, particularly in addiction services, expressed concerns about losses of block grant funding and more of a mental health focus in policy. Prior to arriving at SAMHSA, Hyde was Cabinet Secretary to the New Mexico Human Services Department, as well as a former state mental health director in that state.

In her statement this week, Burwell said that Hyde “has helped to lead the HHS Behavioral Health Coordinating Council and has worked to integrate behavioral health into all of HHS' coverage, prevention, treatment, and human services programs.” Other accomplishments that Burwell cited include Hyde's work in the creation of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, as well as the planning of the 2013 White House Conference on Mental Health and its launching of a national dialogue on the subject.

In an interview with Behavioral Healthcare in the weeks following her appointment to SAMHSA, Hyde offered a preview of the funding shifts that have occurred in the field during her tenure. “When services and dollars are cut in one area, I think we'll have to get more creative,” she said. “SAMHSA is going to have to help states get more creative in how they view their influence around substance abuse and mental health services that are going to be paid for by others.”

SAMHSA principal deputy administrator Kana Enomoto will serve as acting administrator of the federal agency, Burwell announced.

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