physical inactivity, poor nutrition, and tobacco use (CDC, 2005d). The prevention and treatment of M/SU illnesses are not mentioned in these and similar CDC initiatives
Moreover, the CDC website providing an overview of chronic illness (http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/overview.htm)12 fails to list any M/SU problems or illnesses among the Leading Causes of Disability among Persons Aged 15 Years or Older, United States (although the source for the data cited is dated 1991–1992). This omission is in spite of the evidence presented in Chapter 1 and acknowledged in the President’s New Freedom Commission report that mental illnesses rank first among conditions that cause disability in the United States (New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2003).
Instead of being included explicitly in these and other structures or formal initiatives, mental health is addressed in CDC through a Mental Health Work Group that is not part of any of the agency’s formal centers, programs, or offices and has no formal budget allocation, personnel positions, or other dedicated administrative support. “Staff members participating in this work group do so voluntarily as an add-on to their other CDC responsibilities because of their commitment to advancing the field of mental health within the context of the overall mission of CDC” (CDC, 2005e:1). Although CDC has undertaken important work on alcohol use (see, for example, http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/about.htm) and alcohol and drug use among youth (see http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/alcoholdrug/index.htm), M/SU health care could benefit greatly from a larger commitment of CDC resources and expertise.
For more than 22 years, AHRQ’s User Liaison Program (ULP) has focused on bringing information on science-based health care services to policy makers at the state and local levels, including the staff of governors’ offices, state legislators and their staffs, and executive branch agency heads such as Medicaid and public health directors, to help them develop more effective policies and programs. The ULP historically has relied on workshops, seminars, and conferences to provide this information, but in the past few years has also been conducting audio and web conferencing. The ULP has addressed a wide variety of topics identified through regular formal and informal mechanisms, including biennial needs assessment meetings across the country, conference calls with stakeholders, and portions of workshops devoted to audience feedback regarding topics to be addressed