Priority Populations

Veterans are a SAMHSA priority population

At times, hidden or hard-to-reach populations have less access to and less utilization of behavioral health services. Cultural differences, social discrimination, language barriers, poverty, and geographical isolation challenges are frequently not addressed or not addressed appropriately and, therefore, often result in poor outcomes. In working to address these disparities, SAMHSA produced Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA’s Roles and Actions 2011–14 and named five “hidden” or “hard to reach” groups as priority populations:

  • American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • Hispanics and Latinos
  • LGBTQ individuals
  • Veterans and military families
  • Persons with disabilities

Resolving barriers to health care for minority and other underserved populations will become even more challenging—and more important—in an increasingly diverse world. Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past, and the United States is projected to become even more diverse in the coming decades (Pew Research Center, 2016). By 2042, racial minorities will make up more than half of the U.S. population (Latino Voices, 2014).

Many government agencies have recognized the importance of culture-centered practices for underserved minority populations. A growing body of research validates the principle that practices that promote cultural connectedness reinforce community strengths, protective factors, and healing.

The Emerging Evidence section includes examples of the role of culture-centered practices in behavioral health treatment and recovery, and presents case studies and video shorts from American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

Read the Emerging Evidence Case Studies.

Last Updated: 06/15/2017