A cornerstone of our work is to promote integrated approaches to domestic and sexual violence, trauma, mental health, and substance use. Too often, survivors are left to navigate complex systems that silo services and create unnecessary barriers to safety and stability. Implementing “no wrong door” services and scaling them up from the local to national level requires cross-sector collaboration between violence prevention, mental health, and substance use systems.
Providers across the fields of domestic and sexual violence, mental health, substance use, and beyond have called for additional training and resources to support survivors at these intersections. At the same time, programs report ongoing challenges in accessing needed services to support survivors and their families in establishing safety and stability.
In order to address these critical intersections, NCDVTMH collaborated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Administration for Children and Families (ACF) on a landmark 2019 Information Memorandum urgently calling for cooperation between:
- State Mental Health and State Substance Use Disorder Treatment Directors
- State Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) Administrators
- State, territory and Tribal domestic violence coalitions
Information Memorandum on the Intersection of Domestic Violence, Mental Health, and Substance Use
An Urgent Call for Collaboration: Research, Resources, and Recommendations for State Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Directors, State FVPSA Administrators, and Practitioners
Collaborating with Mental Health Resources
Collaborating with Substance Use Resources
Information Memorandum Key Points:
- Domestic violence (DV) has significant mental health and substance use effects.
- Experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder places individuals at greater risk for being controlled by an abusive partner.
- Stigma associated with substance use and mental illness contributes to the efficacy of abusive tactics and can create barriers for survivors when they seek help.
- It is essential for State Mental Health Commissioners, Substance Use Disorder Treatment Directors, FVPSA Administrators, and state, territorial, and Tribal coalitions to develop partnerships.
- Design every state’s DV programs to serve all survivors and their families without unnecessary barriers for individuals experiencing mental health or substance use-related needs.
- Promote whole-family treatment approaches—abusive partners often undermine their partners’ relationship with their children, creating risks for children’s physical health, mental health, and well-being.
- Provide training for mental health and substance use treatment and recovery support providers on identifying and responding to DV in their work.
- Provide training for DV program staff on mental health, substance use, and trauma-informed best practices.