public-policy newsletter

SAMHSA Freezes Clearinghouse for Evidence-Based Programs

January 18, 2018

The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP), in its current form since 2006, is a clearinghouse of evidence-based substance abuse and mental health treatment and prevention programs administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In late December, SAMHSA abruptly terminated the contract with the organization responsible for reviewing submissions for inclusion in the registry.

According to SAMHSA’s official statement, the NREPP has been undermined “by practices and programs submitted by outside developers—resulting in a skewed presentation of evidence-based interventions….” The agency hasindicated that the responsibility for reviewing evidence-based programs will now shift to the National Mental Health and Substance Abuse Policy Laboratory, or Policy Lab. However, Policy Lab and the NREPP were established by different sections of federal law. SAMHSA should, therefore, clarify precisely how it will continue to fulfill the requirements that the NREPP had met. While there are legitimate concerns about the current NREPP review process, without a more concrete replacement plan, new and existing interventions from mental health providers will lack the centralized vetting system that the field relies on to promote interventions demonstrated to build and maintain well-being.

On Wednesday, The Hill reported that five Democratic Senators sent a letter to Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, the assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, to raise their concerns about the need to replace the NREPP in a timely manner and ensure that behavioral health professionals have the resources they need to provide effective interventions.