Access this essential series of webinars addressing equity in key behavioral health-related fields, anchored by three leading providers of technical assistance (TA):

  • the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC);
  • the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF) TA Center; and
  • the SAMHSA SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, anfd Recovery (SOAR) TA Center.

The series featured speakers with lived experience in the following areas and people who work in related service-providing systems:

  • individuals involved in or at risk of involvement in the criminal justice system;
  • SMVF at risk of suicide and mental and substance use disorders; and
  • people experiencing or at risk of homelessness who have a serious mental illness, medical impairment, or co-occurring substance use disorder.

These speakers illustrated strategies that influence equitable practices in the implementation of projects or efforts that the hosting TA providers support. This webinar series addressed how the work of these TA providers—all operated by Policy Research Associates, Inc., or its close partner nonprofit, Policy Research, Inc.—makes an impact on equity, as evidenced by both the people providing and those engaging with services. Read below for each individual event’s description and access each event recording.

MacArthur SJC: Centering Equity, Engaging Communities, Transforming Systems

View the SJC Event Recording

The goal of the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge’s criminal justice team is to center racial equity in our local justice reform efforts. Through our technical assistance with a network of implementing and innovating local sites, we aim to collectively play a role in addressing racial and ethnic disparities and build our own capacity to be champions of racial equity.

As the Safety and Justice Challenge invests in local justice systems that advance racial equity and justice through the pursuit of anti-racist jail reduction policies and practices, this webinar will feature several jurisdictions that have made great strides in centering racial equity in their work.

The Safety and Justice Challenge Network fosters an inclusive and restorative definition of safety that prioritizes the dignity of all those involved, honors the expertise of directly impacted communities, and believes together, across sectors and communities, we can achieve transformational change so that all people have what they need to thrive.

Our panelists showed how their respective jurisdictions have engaged in this pursuit of transformational change from an intersectional perspective, to achieve equitable outcomes for all people, thereby prioritizing a focus on people of color.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how accessible, culturally responsive, and integrated community-based services are taking place in various parts of the country
  • Examine the continuum of treatment and support services across the intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice for people of color
  • Explore access and cultural responsivity issues related to available services

Leveraging SAMHSA SMVF Technical Assistance to Improve Systems

View the SMVF Event Recording

This installment in the Equity in Action webinar series will provide an overview of how SAMHSA’s SMVF Technical Assistance (TA) Center can help ensure equity in state programs by providing education to and increasing awareness among TA recipients around the following topics:

  • Engaging diverse populations (American Indian/Alaska Native Veterans, Behavioral Health Supports for Veterans in Rural Areas, Families and Caregivers of Veterans, Women Veterans, Aging Veterans, Black and Hispanic Veterans, and Veterans from LGBTQ Communities)
  • Applying a health equity lens to identify and address social determinants of health (SDOH), as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles when working with members of the SMVF population
  • Making use of the SAMHSA SMVF TA Center Diverse Populations webpage

This webinar will also offer a unique opportunity to discuss challenges and pose questions about the SDOH and DEI issues that may impact wellbeing among the SMVF population. Research suggests adverse SDOH are strong predictors of suicide risk.[1] In light of this, this installment in the webinar series will explore unique characteristics of diverse populations, ways to raise awareness to better serve these populations utilizing DEI principles, and innovative strategies to enhance state and local suicide prevention efforts by including a focus on equity to positively impact the SMVF community. Every member of the SMVF community is unique. At the SMVF TA Center the importance of addressing the diverse needs of SMVF is understood, valued, and reflected in the work. A diverse populations website demonstrating this effort, developed to assist and guide those who are engaged with different populations of the SMVF community, will be explored.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the purpose of the SMVF TA Center, including the variety of TA offerings and the diverse populations served
  • Learn about how the SMVF TA Center offerings have explored diversity, focused on equity and prioritized inclusion
  • Illustrate the importance of integrating DEI principles and practices within systems and programs supporting the behavioral health needs of SMVF

Leveraging SAMHSA SOAR Technical Assistance to Improve Systems

View the SOAR Event Recording

The SAMHSA SOAR TA Center has worked to address the barriers to equity in SOAR implementation with the development of resources, tools, and training. For this webinar, SOAR Leaders will discuss how these resources have been used to promote equity and reduce the impact of implicit bias in the implementation of SOAR work within their agencies. SOAR State Leads will discuss the integration of resources in their work and steps they have taken to ensure that diverse groups are equitably accessing services. Panelists will also share how community demographics (race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, and justice involvement) impact access to SOAR programs and present strategies for recognizing and reaching individuals that are underserved. SAMHSA SOAR TA Center staff will share a brief summary of the equity-focused SOAR products and tools designed to support SOAR initiatives in their efforts to achieve equity and inclusion in program access and participation. Finally, staff of the SAMHSA-funded Homeless and Housing Resource Center (HHRC) will share how equity is integrated into their resources and trainings for housing and health professionals.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will receive an overview of the resources, made available by the SAMSHA SOAR TA Center, to address the barriers to equity in SOAR implementation
  • Participants will hear from State Team Lead presenters on what equity means and why DEI consideration is an important step to ensure equitable service delivery
  • Participants will learn how State Leads use the products and tools developed by the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center (and other resources) to reduce the gaps that may contribute to disparities in how SOAR services are accessed and delivered within their agency


[1] See the 2020 analysis of Electronic Healthcare Record data from between 2015 and 2016 of nearly 300,000 inpatient or outpatient visits from the Veterans Integrated Service Network 4