Behavioral Health Measures - Phases I and II 

Project Status: Completed

Behavioral Health Measures - Phases I and II

Phase I:
Access the Endorsement Summary (PDF) | Access the Full Report 

The Opportunity

Behavioral health refers to a state of mental or emotional being and choices and actions that affect wellness, as defined in the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Behavioral Health Quality Framework (NBHQF).1 Behavioral health problems include substance abuse or misuse, alcohol and drug addiction, serious psychological distress, suicide, and mental and substance use disorders.

To date, NQF has endorsed a relatively small proportion of measures, approximately 45, specific to mental health or substance abuse. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 26.4 percent of the population suffers from mental illness and substance abuse.2 While mental illness is prevalent throughout the general population, the substantial burden of disease is concentrated in the 6 percent who suffer from a serious mental illness. Such individuals are now dying 25 years earlier than the general population.3 Although most of the years of lost life can be attributed to medical illnesses, an individual’s mental health status has a significant impact on engagement in treatment of medical conditions, therapeutic response, and overall outcomes.4 

About the Project

Phase I of this project began in November 2011. Phase II began in September 2012.


This multi-phase project seeks to endorse measures for improving the delivery of behavioral health services, achieving better behavioral health outcomes, and improving the behavioral health of the U.S. population, especially those with mental illness and substance abuse.5  

In Phase I, NQF seeks to endorse new individual and composite behavioral health measures of process, outcomes, and structure that serve as indicators of quality behavioral healthcare across all care delivery settings, including primary and specialty care. In Phase 2, NQF will seek to endorse more measures addressing additional gap areas identified in Phase 1. NQF-endorsed® standards relating to behavioral healthcare that are due for maintenance also will be reviewed in this phase.

NQF Process 

Measures will be considered for NQF endorsement as national voluntary consensus standards based on the recommendations developed through NQF's formal Consensus Development Process (CDP) (version 1.9). This project involves the active participation of representatives from across a broad spectrum of healthcare stakeholders and will be guided by a Steering Committee.


This project is funded under a contract provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. <p>For information about the availability of auxiliary aids and services for NQF’s federally funded projects, please visit: <a href="" title="" target="_blank"></a>.</p>


Related NQF Work  

Before 2011, NQF endorsed 45 behavioral health-related quality measures including the areas of hospital psychiatric services, mental illness, and substance abuse. These measures were designed to improve the quality of care delivered to patients as part of a healthcare system or in inpatient or ambulatory settings.

List of Previously Endorsed Behavioral Health Measures (PDF)

Contact Information  

For further information, please contact Lauralei Dorian via email at or Elisa Munthali at

For general project-related questions, please call 202-783-1300 or email



1 Delany PJ, Frank R. “National Behavioral Health Quality Framework Improving Health Outcomes.” Presentation to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Advisory Councils; August 16, 2011. Available at Last accessed November 2011.

2 World Health Organization (WHO), Atlas: Psychiatric Education and Training across the World 2005, Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2005. Available at Last accessed November 2011.

3 Parks J, Radke A, Mazade NA, Measurement of Health Status for People with Serious Mental Illness. Alexandria, VA :National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors; 2008. Available at Last accessed October 2011.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

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