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Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy

Center News

Summer/Fall 2021

Congratulations to the alumni of the Center that have defended their dissertations and accepted new positions!

Rachel Presskreischer’s dissertation was “Understanding Enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (2008).” Rachel now has a postdoctoral fellowship in Mental Health Services and Data Science at Weill Cornell Medicine in the Department of Population Health Sciences.

Geoff Kahn’s dissertation was “Predicting Self-harm in Adolescents in the US Child Welfare system.” Geoff now has a postdoctoral fellowship with the Mental Health Research Network at Henry Ford Hospital.

Kira Riehm’s dissertation was “Diagnostic, Treatment, and Health-Related Outcomes of Depression Screening in Primary Care Settings: A Longitudinal Cohort Study of Adolescents.” Kira now has a NIMH T32 postdoctoral fellowship with the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.

Kim Arnold (former pre-doctoral trainee) finished her NIMH T32 post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for Mental Health at the University of Pennsylvania and has started as an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Pennsylvania.

We’re hiring a one- or two-year post-doctoral Fellow for the NIMH Mental Health Services and Systems T32!

The JHSPH Mental Health Services and System T32 Training Program invites applications for a one- or two-year post-doctoral fellowship that begins in Summer 2022. This program will produce researchers who can address critical gaps in knowledge with a focus on: (1) how health care services, delivery settings, and financing systems affect wellbeing of persons with mental illness; (2) how cutting-edge statistical and econometric methods can be used for studying how interventions, policies, and programs can be used to improve care; and (3) how implementation science can be used to most effectively disseminate evidence-based advances into routine practice. Applications are due by January 15, 2022, further information can be found here.

CMAP faculty convenes group of experts on medications for OUD in jails and prisons

In April 2021, CMAP faculty, led by Brendan Saloner, convened a diverse group of experts to identify best practices to providing medications for opioid use disorder in jails and prisons. The event focused on five key areas: 1) methadone and buprenorphine regulation 2) access to low-threshold treatment 3) collaboration between security and medical staff 4) harm reduction 5) re-entry services and Medicaid enrollment. A report summarizing the major lessons learned from the convening and offering practical suggestions for improving access to these treatments in jails and prisons can be found here. Congratulations, Brendan!

Center Co-Deputy Director Sachini Bandara, MS, PhD, awarded AHSR 2021 Early Career Investigator Award

The Addiction Health Services Research (ASHR) Conference brings together multidisciplinary stakeholders to focus on how addiction health systems redesign can effectively and sustainably be implemented. CMAP Center Co-Deputy Director Sachini Bandara, MS, PhD, was one of six early career researchers awarded this honor.  Bandara will present her work “Implementation, enforcement, and outcomes of state laws regarding prenatal drug use: A mixed-methods study” at the opening of the conference on October 14 and 15. Congratulations, Sachini!

Former CMAP co-Director Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, becomes the inaugural dean of the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy

Colleen Barry, PhD, MPP, former CMAP Co-Director and Fred and Julie Soper Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently left Johns Hopkins for an appointment as the founding dean of Cornell’s new School of Public Policy. She began her new position on September 15. Congratulations Colleen!

CMAP co-Director Elizabeth Stuart, PhD, named the Vice Dean for Education for JHPSH

Elizabeth Stuart, PhD, was named Vice Dean for Education at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is responsible for creating and leading a culture of educational research and innovation, including improving the quality of the School’s educational initiatives. Her new position began in July 2021. Congratulations Liz!

Center faculty member Gail L. Daumit, MD, MHS, is named the Vice Dean for Clinical Investigation at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Gail Daumit, MD, MHS, was named the Vice Dean for Clinical Investigation at the School of Medicine. She began her new position in June 2021 and will focus on identifying and addressing potential barriers for patients and investigators to participate in clinical research. Congratulations Gail!

April 2021

Adopting Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in the Criminal Justice System: Sharing Perspectives from Frontline Providers

Watch the recording of our April 13th webinar exploring approaches to expanding access to medications for opioid use disorder in carceral settings! This panel featured new research by Center faculty and commentary from the clinical and policy perspectives.

Speakers include: Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, Center co-Director, Brendan Saloner, PhD, Bloomberg American Professor of Addiction and Overdose, Sachini Bandara, PhD, Center Deputy Director, and Alene Kennedy-Hendricks, Center co-Deputy Director, all from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Center core faculty, as well as NYU’s Noa Krawczyk, PhD, Assistant Professor of Population Medicine, Alexandra Duncan, DrPH, MPH of the Pew Charitable Trusts and Tyler Winkleman, MD, MSc of Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute and physician at Hennepin County Jail.

January 2021

Welcoming New Faculty and Staff to the CMAP Team 

We are excited to welcome Beth McGinty, PhD, MS, as CMAP co-director, a leadership role she will hold together with Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, and Elizabeth Stuart, PhD. The directors manage all aspects of CMAP operations and set the strategic direction of the Center. We are also pleased to welcome Sachini Bandara, PhD, to the leadership team as co-Deputy Director, a position she will hold with Alene Kennedy-Hendricks, PhD. Bandara is an assistant professor in the Department of Mental Health whose research focuses on substance use and mental health policy, with an emphasis on marginalized populations including those involved in the carceral system. Cameron Schilling, MPH, is the CMAP’s new programmer and data analyst, joining the team in 2020. Sarah White, MSPH, is the CMAP’s newly appointed Center Project Director.

CMAP Co-Director Named AAAS Fellow 

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest scientific society, named CMAP co-Director Elizabeth Stuart, PhD, one of their fellows along with three other Johns Hopkins University faculty. Stuart will be inducted on February 13th, 2021. Congratulations!

December 2020

CMAP Co-Director Appointed Bloomberg Professor of American Health 

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of CMAP co-director Elizabeth Stuart, PhD as a Bloomberg Professor of American Health. Stuart is a national leader in developing and communicating methods for estimating causal effects of programs and policies. Specifically, she has extensive experience in methods for estimating causal effects and dealing with the complications of missing data in experimental and non-experimental studies, particularly as applied to mental health, public policy, and education. Stuart has published influential papers on propensity score methods and generalizing treatment effect estimate to target populations. She has also taught courses and short courses on causal inference and propensity scores to a wide range of audiences. More broadly, she has been extensively involved in communicating the value of evidence and balancing rigor and relevance of evidence to broad audiences.

Stuart is Associate Dean for Education and professor in the Department of Mental Health, with joint appointments in the departments of Biostatistics and Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School.


November 2020

Evidence Based Strategies for Abatement of Harms from the Opioid Epidemic

Faculty in the Johns Hopkins Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy contributed to a recently released comprehensive report outlining recommendations for addressing the opioid crisis. As states, counties, and cities engage in litigation against opioid pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their role in fueling the opioid addiction and overdose crisis, anticipated settlement awards could exceed $50 billion. The report consolidates the best research evidence to provide recommendations for high-impact investments to improve the addiction treatment system, strengthen prevention and harm reduction programming, and address substance use disorder within the criminal justice system. It also includes detailed guidance related to economic impacts and policy considerations. Contributing authors from the Center include Colleen L. Barry and Alene Kennedy-Hendricks. The report was supported by Arnold Ventures. Fact sheets and the full report are available for download below. 

September 2020

Brendan Saloner appointed as New Bloomberg Associate Professor of American Health 

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has appointed Brendan Saloner, PhD, as a Bloomberg Associate Professor of American Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management. This is an endowed position supported by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative through a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Saloner is an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, with a joint appointment in Mental Health. He is also core faculty in the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. His research focuses on the intersection of health and social policy, particularly on the role of public programs that serve people with substance use disorders.

Saloner has conducted extensive research evaluating policies designed to improve access and quality of care for substance use disorders. He is interested in the transformation of public sector behavioral health and primary care health systems under the Affordable Care Act, as well as the role of multi-sectoral collaborations to prevent opioid overdose, especially within the criminal justice system. Saloner is also interested in how ethical issues influence equitable health care financing and the design of health insurance.

Read more. 

June 2020

Linking Hospital and Other Records Can Predict Both Fatal and Nonfatal Opioid Overdoses, New Study Suggests

A new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the odds of a fatal opioid overdose were 1.5 times higher for individuals with one to two visits to the emergency department for any medical issue than for people with no hospital visits. The researchers also found that individuals with a hospital visit where opioid use disorder was addressed were 2.9 times more likely to die from an overdose over the coming year, compared with other people.

For their analysis, the researchers matched de-identified individual records across five Maryland-based databases that encompassed hospital visits, prescription-drug monitoring, treatment programs, and criminal justice records from 2015. Maryland is one of the first states to have linked records across databases in an attempt to identify those at risk for opioid overdose.

The findings, published online June 24 in JAMA Psychiatry, suggest that risk of an overdose can be accurately predicted by leveraging information found across databases.

Using these linked databases, the researchers, including Brendan Saloner, PhD and Matthew Eisenberg, PhD from the Center, found that individuals who were recently released from prison were more than four times likely to experience a fatal overdose. Being on probation and parole were also associated with double the odds of an overdose.

Among demographic predictors of opioid overdose, men had 2.4 higher odds of fatal overdose and 1.4 times higher odds of nonfatal overdose compared to women.

Read more.

June 2020

Survey Finds Large Increase in Psychological Distress Reported Among U.S. Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A new survey conducted during the pandemic by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University found a more-than-threefold increase in the percentage of U.S. adults who reported symptoms of psychological distress—from 3.9 percent in 2018 to 13.6 percent in April 2020. The percentage of adults ages 18­–29 in the U.S. who reported psychological distress increased from 3.7 percent in 2018 to 24 percent in 2020.

The survey, fielded online April 7 to April 13, found that 19.3 percent of adults with annual household incomes less than $35,000 reported psychological distress in 2020 compared to 7.9 percent in 2018, an increase of 11.4 percentage points. Nearly one-fifth, or 18.3 percent, of Hispanic adults reported psychological distress in 2020 compared to 4.4 percent in 2018, a more than four-fold increase of 13.9 percentage points. The researchers also found that psychological distress in adults age 55 and older almost doubled from 3.8 percent in 2018 to 7.3 percent in 2020.

The study, led by Beth McGinty and co-authored by Rachel Presskreischer, MSSW, and Colleen Barry, MPP, PhD, from the Center, and Hahrie Han from the SNF Agora Institute, also found only a slight increase in feelings of loneliness, from 11 percent in 2018 to 13.8 percent in 2020, suggesting that loneliness is not driving increased psychological distress.

The findings were published online June 3 in a research letter in JAMA.

Read more.

April 2020

Nearly One-Third of Primary Care Providers Do Not View Medication Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder as Effective

A new survey of U.S. primary care physicians from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that nearly one-third, 32.9 percent, do not think treating opioid use disorder with medication is any more effective than treatment without medication.

The study, led by Beth McGinty, PhD, and co-authored by Center faculty Alene Kennedy-Hendricks, PhD, and Colleen Barry MPP, PhD, also found that only one-fifth, 20.2 percent, of U.S. primary care physicians have interest in treating a patient with opioid use disorder.

The study, published online April 21 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests that despite efforts to expand treatment for opioid use disorder with medication, some physicians in primary care settings remain reluctant to support medication as a treatment option.

This reluctance contrasts with research that shows that treatment with one of the three FDA-approved medications for opioid use disorder—methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone—is far more effective at helping people recover and preventing overdose death than approaches that do not use medication.

Read more. 

February 2020

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Colleen Barry on Loneliness and Health

Former Distinguished Policy Scholar in Health Policy and Management, Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, is working with faculty and students on critical health issues, including loneliness. Here, Murthy and HPM chair Colleen Barry, PhD, discuss loneliness and its impact on health. Read more about their conversation.

February 2020

Department Chair, Colleen L. Barry, Elected into National Academy of Medicine         

Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, Fred and Julie Soper Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, was elected into the National Academy of Medicine. She joins three more faculty members of the Johns Hopkins University to be elected in 2019. 

Through its domestic and global initiatives, the National Academy of Medicine works to address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy. New members are elected by current members through a selective process that recognizes people who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health. 

Barry's research focuses on how health and social policies can affect a range of outcomes for individuals with substance use disorders and mental illness, including access to medical care and social services, care quality, health care spending, financial protection and mortality. In addition, she conducts empirical research to understand how communication strategies influence public attitudes about addiction, mental illness and violence. A focus of this work is to identify evidence-based approaches to reducing stigma. She has led research studies funded by the NIH and various foundations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund and the Arnold Foundation. She has authored over 180 peer-reviewed publications on a range of health policy and public health topics in journals such as the New England Journal of MedicinePediatricsHealth Affairs and the American Journal of Public Health. Barry holds a joint appointment in the Department of Mental Health and is founding co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy. She is a core faculty member with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. She is Principal Investigator of the Johns Hopkins NIMH T32 Mental Health Services and Systems Training Grant. She serves on various national advisory boards on policy related to addiction, mental health and violence. She recently served as a member of the National Academy of Medicine Consensus Panel on Medication Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder. Barry is also co-chair of the Forum on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

19th Surgeon General of the United States To Join Bloomberg School as Distinguished Policy Scholar

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the 19th U.S. Surgeon General and previous Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, will join the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as the Distinguished Policy Scholar, beginning in September 2019.

Murthy served as U.S. Surgeon General under President Barack Obama, focusing his tenure on pressing public health issues, from the opioid epidemic and e-cigarettes to vaccine-preventable illness and emotional well-being. He released the first Surgeon General’s Report on substance use disorders as well as the first federal report on e-cigarettes and youth.

The Distinguished Policy Scholar program, housed in the Bloomberg School’s department of health policy and management, was created to bring national policy leaders to campus to collaborate with faculty and students on pressing public health challenges. During a year-long residence, the Distinguished Policy Scholar takes part in wide-ranging research, education, and public health practice activities in partnership with faculty.

Murthy follows Michael Botticelli, former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who served as Distinguished Policy Scholar at the Bloomberg School in 2018. Other former Distinguished Policy Scholars include former Congressman Henry Waxman, of California, and former Governor Ronnie Musgrove, of Mississippi.

Center Deputy Director to Help Develop Recommendations for UN on Stigma Reduction  

Beth McGinty, PhD, MS, Center deputy director, was part of a group of experts who presented at the United Nations Technical Consultation on Stigma in Vienna, Austria this past January. The meeting, which aimed to develop recommendations for UN member nations to reduce stigma toward substance use disorder, was attended by addiction stigma experts, including researchers, government, non-government, advocates and people with lived experience from 15 different countries.

McGinty’s presentation, “Identifying and Addressing Challenges in Stigma Research Approaches,” provided an overview of the state of the research evidence surrounding ways to address addiction stigma, highlighting research produced by the Center on communication strategies, message framing, and stigmatizing language

As a result of the meeting, the panel of experts developed a blueprint of specific recommendations for how to implement UN resolution 61/11, “Promoting non-stigmatizing attitudes to ensure the availability, access and delivery of health, care and social services for drug users.” The recommendations include strategies for addressing public, self, and structural addiction stigma as well as suggestions for needed research. The technical consultation panel is currently working on developing a report, which will be "launched” to member nations in an event later this year. Stay tuned!

July 2019

New Research: U.S. News Media Coverage of Opioid Crisis Features More Public Health Solutions

A study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined news coverage of the opioid crisis from 2013 through 2017 and found that treatment and harm reduction were the most frequently mentioned solutions. At the same time, the study found that several evidence-based public health approaches received scant coverage over the five-year period.

The paper was published online July 22, 2019 in the journal Preventive Medicine.

For their study, the researchers analyzed a random sample of 600 U.S. news stories published/aired by high circulation/viewership national and local print and television news outlets from 2013 to 2017.

The researchers found that 33 percent of the news stories mentioned treatment, 30 percent mentioned harm reduction and 24 percent mentioned prevention. However, several specific types of evidence-based public health solutions received little news coverage: 9 percent of news stories mentioned medication treatment for opioid use disorder. Five percent mentioned harm reduction solutions syringe services programs and two percent mentioned safe consumption sites.

“This is good progress,” says Dr. Beth McGinty, associate professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy Management and the paper’s lead author. “More coverage of key evidence-based solutions, like medication treatment for opioid use disorder, syringe services programs and safe consumption sites, would help educate the public and policymakers.”

Earlier research found that from 1998 to 2012, news media coverage of the opioid epidemic focused on criminal justice-oriented solutions. 

March 2019

New ALACRITY Center at Hopkins Focusing on the Health and Longevity of Youth and Adults with Mental Illness

Several faculty from our Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy leadership team recently obtained NIMH funding to launch the ALACRITY Center for Health and Longevity in Mental Illness. This new Center is funded by the NIMH Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact of Treatments for Youth and Adults with Mental Illness (ALACRITY) program. The Center focuses on improving physical health and reducing premature mortality among people with serious mental illness. Its primary research initiatives aim to improve implementation of evidence-based weight loss, tobacco smoking cessation, and cardiovascular care interventions in community mental health settings. The Center’s Methods Core is engaged in developing practical and scientific products to support scale-up of physical health interventions in community mental health settings. The new Center is led by CMHAPR faculty Gail Daumit (Director) and Beth McGinty (Associate Director), along with Liz Stuart (Co-Director of the ALACRITY Methods Core) and Colleen Barry (Investigator). Multiple faculty from across Johns Hopkins are also involved.

We look forward to seeing all the great work this Center will be doing over the coming years!