Announcing the Behavioral Health Patient Empowerment Challenge

Adam Wong | August 27, 2013

The Office of the National Coordinator is happy to announce its newest innovation challenge, the Behavioral Health Patient Empowerment Challenge!

In collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this challenge seeks to highlight existing technologies that empower consumers to manage their mental health and/or substance use disorders.

How Health IT Aids Behavioral Health Disorders
Health IT has significant potential to enable self management of behavioral health disorders (including both mental health and substance use disorders) as well as to act as a treatment extender for patients with limited access to care.

Behavioral health disorders are common in the United States.

  • Approximately 20% of adults, and 13% of adolescents suffer from mental disorders each year
  • Approximately 8.7% of Americans aged 12 and older experience substance dependence or abuse each year¹,².

Rates of mental health problems are significantly higher for patients with chronic conditions such as: diabetes, asthma, and heart conditions and failure to treat both physical and mental health conditions results in poorer health outcomes and higher health care costs³.

Yet despite the high personal and societal burden of these disorders fewer than half of adults and only one-third of children with mental disorders and only 11% of individuals with substance use disorders receive treatment¹,².

The intent of the challenge is to showcase innovative applications that use evidence-based strategies to empower consumer self-management of behavioral health disorders.

What is the Behavioral Health Patient Empowerment Challenge?
The Behavioral Health Patient Empowerment Challenge is being run in conjunction with the Technology Innovations for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders Conference taking place at the White House on September 16 and organized by SAMHSA, ONC, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Participation in the challenge requires submission of, or directions to access, an application that must be available for use by consumers on a widely-used platform for mobile devices by the submission end date of September 3.

To be clear, we are interested only in applications that are currently available, and this can include websites optimized for mobile devices.

The three top finishers in the challenge will be invited to the conference where the final winner will be given the opportunity to present their application (if the winner is unable to attend, a demo video will be shown).

For more information about the Behavioral Health Patient Empowerment Challenge, including submission requirements and rules for participation, please visit here External Links Disclaimer.


¹ 2010-2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,

² Results from the 2010 NSDUH: Mental Health Findings: