Learn about the people, vision and mission that drive this initiative

Our Vision

Our Vision

To transform care for people who have serious mental illness so they can live their best lives.

Our Mission

To advance the use of a person-centered approach to care that ensures people who have SMI find the treatment and support they need.

For clinicians, we offer access to education, data, and consultations so you can make evidence-based treatment decisions.

For individuals, families, friends, people who have questions, or people who care for someone with SMI, we offer access to resources and answers from a national network of experts.

What Is Serious Mental Illness?
Serious Mental Illness (SMI) is defined as someone over the age of 18 who has (or had within the past year) a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional...
Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, & More
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that is often misunderstood and even mistaken for other illnesses. Here’s what you need to know about bipolar disorder.
Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, & More
Within the group of mental illnesses, schizophrenia can be one of the most debilitating if a person does not receive treatment. In addition, there are...
Major Depressive Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, & More
Major Depression is a common mental illness that can be debilitating without treatment. Here’s what you need to know about major depression.
To learn more about serious mental illness, explore the topics above.


How SMI Adviser Transforms Care


Supports real-world clinical practice with education, evidence, and consultations.


Answers questions about evidence-based screening and treatments. It supports their use as part of best practice care plans.


Involves all persons in the conversation about care. Content and answers have input from clinical experts, peers, families, and those receiving care.


Provides answers on all facets of SMI and directs everyone to the resources and support they may need.

See how SMI Adviser makes an impact

Learn More

A Powerful Partnership

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has been awarded a 6-year, $17 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) establishing SMI Adviser.

The APA leads a broad team of experts and organizations who work on the project. This team includes experts in:

  • iconClinical Treatment
  • iconInstructional Design
  • iconPeer Support
  • iconTechnology
  • iconRecovery
  • iconMarketing
  • iconPatient and Family Engagement

10.8 Million Visits

People with SMI make more than 10.8 million
visits to emergency departments each year


A Commitment to Underserved Communities

The diversity of the United States continues to increase. Census data projects that by 2044 more than half of all people in the U.S. will belong to minority groups. These groups often face greater burdens when it comes to serious mental illness (SMI). This may be due to stigma, difficult access to health care, and other cultural and systemic barriers.

Education and technical assistance are key strategies to address mental health disparities in minority communities. With the right knowledge and skills, health care providers can deliver care that is informed by cultural norms and needs. That is where SMI Adviser helps. SMI Adviser offers educational materials, clinical consultations, and toolkits that promote culturally competent care for people who have SMI. SMI Adviser also serves as a resource for families and communities. Our work helps reduce stigma and promote evidence-based treatment for all persons in need of care for serious mental illness.

SMI Adviser is proud to have a strong commitment to minority and underserved communities. Our ongoing work includes active plans to:

  • Engage all stakeholders.
  • Enhance the level of professional collaboration in all communities.
  • Promote ways to reduce mental health disparities.


Working Towards Person-Centered Language

There is wide variety in how people and organizations describe individuals who have serious mental illness (SMI). Some of these include:

  • individuals with psychiatric disabilities
  • consumers of services, or clients
  • those with the lived experience, or peers
  • patients, or people receiving care
  • ex-patients or survivors
  • individuals living with mental illnesses

We know that choosing the "right" words is at times complex. There is no consensus on the right words to use. Yet we must continue to have conversations about it.

SMI has a huge impact on each person's life, as well as the lives of family members, clinicians, and others. Often, personal experience guides how we choose and use our words. At SMI Adviser, we strive to take into account respect for each person's basic humanity; the views and preferences that people may have; and the role that compassionate, stigma-free, person-centered words can play in helping each person on their road to well-being and recovery.

Throughout our website we use a few different words and phrases. There may be objections and alternatives to each. Yet no matter what words we use, in all cases our goal is simple. It is to ensure that we recognize and refer to individuals who have SMI -- first and foremost -- as people.

The Team

The Core Clinical Team

Amy N. Cohen, PhD


American Psychiatric Association

Teri Brister, PhD, LPC

SMI Patient and Family Engagement Expert

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Robert Cotes, MD

SMI Physician Expert

Emory University

Benjamin Druss, MD, MPH

SMI Health Systems Expert

Emory University

Sherin Khan, LCSW

SMI Social Work Expert


Donna Rolin, PhD, APRN

SMI Nursing Expert

University of Texas, Austin

John Torous, MD, MBI

SMI Technology Expert

Harvard Medical School

José M. Viruet, LCPC

SMI Community Care Expert

Erie Family Health Center

Alexia Wolf, MPH

SMI Social Determinants of Care Expert

Delaware Department of Health and Social Services

Megan Ehret, PharmD, MS, BCPP

SMI Pharmacist Expert

University of Maryland, Baltimore

SMI Staff

The SMI Staff Team

Glenn Laudenslager IV, MBA

Charge Ahead Marketing

Marketing and Engagement Expert

Zhuoyin Yang

American Psychiatric Association

Associate Director

Vinaya Chinti, MS

American Psychiatric Association

Data Analyst

Maggie Coyle

American Psychiatric Association

Project Manager

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