National Centers Of Excellence To Treat Depression Fact Sheet


On October 22, 2009, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), with strong bipartisan support, introduced S. 1857, the “ENHANCED Act,” which would establish a national network of centers of excellence for the treatment of depressive and bipolar disorders.  A companion bill, H.R. 4204, was introduced on December 3, 2009, by Representatives Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Tim Murphy (R-PA).   The goal of the legislation was to increase the number of people with depressive disorders who receive appropriate and evidence-based treatment and to establish a national resource to develop and disseminate evidence-based interventions, provide public and professional education, and eradicate the stigma associated with depressive and bipolar disorders. 

Health care reform legislation, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” PL 111-148, signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010, included provisions to establish a national network of centers of excellence for the treatment of depressive disorders. Those provisions would provide grants through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for up to 20 centers of excellence for depressive disorders within the first year and up to 30 such centers within the first 5 years after enactment.  The grants would be made to institutions of higher education or to public or private non-profit research institutions

 In addition to serving needs across the continuum of depressive disorders, early drafts S.1857/H.R.4204 included provisions for one or more of the centers to be selected to specialize in sub-specialties that serve a particular demographic group, such as older adults, or a particular type of depressive disorder.   The Department of Health and Human Services could include such a provision when it issues regulations on the depression centers.

AAGP Position

AAGP was among the first organizations to endorse this legislation and was cited by Senator Stabenow when the bill was introduced.  AAGP is strongly supporting Fiscal Year 2012 funding for this initiative and for designating centers specializing in treatment of older adults.  In its letter of endorsement, AAGP pointed out the devastating toll of depressive and bipolar disorders on older adults and the lack of treatment that leads to poorer health outcomes and higher health costs for this population.  The work of these centers would be an essential component in the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based practices in clinical settings throughout the country.

(March 3, 2011)