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Delphin-Rittmon Nominated to Serve as Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use in Biden Administration

April 24, 2021

Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, PhD, Associate Professor Adjunct of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), has been nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Delphin-Rittmon faces confirmation in the next six to eight weeks. If confirmed she will lead the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which works to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

Delphin-Rittmon has had several positions at the national and state level. At Yale she maintains a faculty appointment in the Yale Department of Psychiatry and has been Director of Cultural Competence and Health Disparities Research and Consultation at Yale’s Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH), which is affiliated with the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC).

“We are extremely proud that Dr. Delphin-Rittmon, alumna of our Department and ground-breaking Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services for Connecticut, has been proposed for this critically important national position,” said John H. Krystal, MD, Chair of the Yale Department of Psychiatry.

In a memo to DMHAS staff, Delphin-Rittmon wrote that she is “humbled and honored” to have been nominated for the federal position, and that she has “appreciated the dedication and passion” with which DMHAS staff has approached its work.

“If confirmed, I look forward to bringing the lessons we’ve learned together here in Connecticut to SAMSHA as we work to address the behavioral health of the nation during this challenging and transformative time,” she wrote.

Delphin-Rittmon has been Commissioner of DMHAS since 2015. In 2014 she completed a two-year appointment under President Barack Obama as senior policy advisor to the administrator of SAMHSA, where she worked on policy initiatives that addressed behavioral health equity, workforce development, and healthcare reform.

“Commissioner Delphin-Rittmon has been a trusted advisor on some of the leading issues of our time, especially when it comes to the national impact of the opioid crisis and the growing mental health needs of our community following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “That is why it comes as no surprise that President Biden has selected her to bring her expertise to the national level. I am grateful to have had her partnership in our administration, and while it is bittersweet that she is moving onto this new opportunity, I know that those of us in Connecticut can continue relying on her to be a trusted ally to advance these critical issues that she has advocated over these many years.”

Lamont noted that each year since 2017, the national nonprofit organization Mental Health America has ranked Connecticut as the top state in the nation for mental health services – a position he credits Delphin-Rittmon’s guidance for helping the state achieve.

DMHAS serves over 110,000 adults in Connecticut with mental health and substance use disorders, and under Delphin-Rittmon’s leadership has significantly boosted its services to address issues that impact women, the opioid crisis, and the behavioral health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She has expanded treatment options for those with opioid use disorders using federal and state funds to expand access to substance use services and medication assisted treatments and has worked with other state agencies and private partners to make Narcan widely available in Connecticut.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on April 24, 2021