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Big Sky. New Horizons. A Healthier Montana.

Improve Mental Health and Reduce Substance Abuse

Alcohol abuse among adolescents and adults continues to be the number one drug abuse problem in Montana. The Montana suicide rate remains among the highest in the nation, and over the past ten years suicide has been a leading cause of death for young adults in Montana. Montana is moving in a positive direction to curb substance abuse, as well as provide resources and support to address mental health promotion. Increasing early identification, intervention, and referral to treatment is key to improving mental health in Montana.

Health Indicators: By 2018

  • Decrease the proportion of youth who report using alcohol in the past 30 days from 38% to 34%
  • Decrease the proportion of adults who report binge drinking from 21% to 15%
  • Decrease the proportion of youth who report having smoked marijuana in the past 30 days from 21% 18%
  • Decrease the proportion of youth who report being depressed for 2 or more consecutive weeks in the past 12 months and stopped doing usual activities from 25% to 22%
  • Increase the proportion of adults who report no days of poor mental health in the past 30 days from 66% to 73%


E1. Public Health Policies

E.1.1 Support worksites to implement health promotion policies that support substance abuse prevention and mental health (e.g., employee assistance programs and mental health services provided)

E.1.2 Promote the implementation of policies and laws that restrict youth access to alcohol (e.g., Minor in Possession Laws and local Social Host Ordinances)

E.1.3 Promote implementation of the Montana Strategic Suicide Prevention Plan

E.1.4 Create and monitor policies that define medical homes to include health care practices related to mental health and substance abuse that are consistent with evidence-based guidelines (e.g., routine counseling of adults on the use of alcohol and prescription drugs, screening for depression)

E2. Prevention and Health Promotion Efforts

E.2.1 Increase awareness of substance abuse prevention and mental health through public education (e.g., “Above the Influence” media campaign)

E3. Access to Care, Particularly Clinical Preventative Services

E.3.1 Implement quality improvement activities that improve the delivery of clinical preventive services and the use of clinical practice guidelines (e.g., routine screening for alcohol and drug use at well-child and sports physicals, routine counseling on the use of alcohol and prescription drugs, regular screening for depression and suicidal ideation)

E4. Montana's Public Health and Health Care System

E.4.1 Implement evidence-based practices, programs and activities for substance abuse prevention

E.4.2 Maintain public health surveillance systems to monitor and reduce the burden of substance abuse and mental illness and produce regular surveillance reports based on the data collected

E.4.3 Encourage the integration of DPHHS programs and services to improve mental health and reduce substance abuse

E.4.4 Facilitate the achievement of mental health improvement and substance abuse reduction goals through implementation of health care reform activities

E.4.5 Provide training for school staffs to support students with mental illness and reduce substance abuse among youth

E.4.6 Improve services to traumatized children using evidence-based practices in the health care and public health system

E.4.7 Provide training and resources to implement programs that facilitate responsible alcohol sales (e.g., Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service Training and compliance checks to sellers and servers)