Federal health officials have ended a contract that provided for the upkeep of the NREPP (National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices), a registry focused on reliable resources for information on substance abuse and mental health treatments.
The NREPP was established in 1997 and indirectly managed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This department is under the Department of Health and Human Services whose executive is a member of the president’s, in this case Trump’s, cabinet.
In addition to apparently loving long acronyms, the SAMHSA is primarily tasked with increasing availability, efficacy, and validity of services focused on substance abuse and mental health.
What does this look like in practice? Well, one thing that was done is the building of the aforementioned registry. The NREPP, according to its website, was made to “help people learn more about available evidence-based programs and practices and determine which of these may best meet their needs.”
Essentially, the registry reviewed programs and research on programs that were designed to help people with mental health and substance abuse problems. The NREPP would then put out a report on the individual program based on its success. To be included on the registry, the program’s effectiveness had to be at a certain level.
This gave people, and importantly also mental health providers, a central place to get an idea of what sort of interventions might help them or are generally more effective.
This all changed recently. After around 20 years of existence, the NREPP is has been frozen by federal officials.
The registry wasn’t directly managed by the SAMHSA. It was handled by a group contracted outside of the federal government, Development Services Group Inc.
Development Services Group Inc. sent out an email following the end of the contract expressing regret that the current administration decided to put an end to what many consider an incredibly helpful resource.
A newly placed statement on the NREPP section of the SAMHSA website reads as follows:
“Although the current NREPP contract has been discontinued, SAMHSA is very focused on the development and implantation of evidence-based programs in communities across the nation. SAMHSA’s Policy Lab will lead the effort to reconfigure its approach to identifying and disseminating evidence-based practice and programs.”
There are hopes that this administration may potentially be attempting to replace the functions of the NREPP in some way. A spokesperson for the SAMHSA, Brian Dominguez, said that the agency is working to “institute an even more scientifically rigorous approach to better inform the identification and implementation of evidence-based programs and practices.”
What that would look like, no one really knows. A number of new programs are already not available to the public because of this pause. If there is something new in the works, we can only hope more specific details come out soon, although the decision to remove a program such as this without an already existing alternative has some people questioning.
H/T: The Hill