The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is investing $825 million in 231 community mental health centers nationwide to help curb the impact of mental illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This funding is part of a $2.5 billion financial package from the Biden administration’s Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplement Act of 2021 to help states and territories address the nation’s mental illness and addiction crises.
Of this sum, $1.65 billion is being put toward substance abuse prevention and treatment block grant funding.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of Americans’ lives – these disruptions are especially difficult for people battling mental health disorders,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a news release. “Thanks to the CAA and CRRS Acts, we’re investing record-breaking funding in community mental health centers, which are often on the frontlines serving our most vulnerable communities.”
The percentage of adults with symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% in 2020 to 41.5% in 2021, and the percentage of those reporting an unmet mental health care need rose from 9.2% to 11.7%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Community mental health centers receiving the funding can provide services to address the needs of patients who have a serious emotional disturbance or serious mental illness, as well as individuals with substance use disorders.
Within 60 days of receiving a grant award, each facility must develop a behavioral health disparities impact statement and a quality-improvement plan to address care accessibility, as well as ways to create policies and procedures that adhere to the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care.
The 231 health centers must also provide services that include audio and visual telehealth capabilities, outpatient services for individuals with a mental illness or substance use disorder, trauma-informed screening and diagnosis, patient-centered treatment, clinical and recovery support services and resources to address the staff’s mental health needs.
Grant recipients are allowed to use the funds to further the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council’s focus areas of crisis and suicide, youth behavioral health, disparities and equity measurement, primary care and behavioral health care integration andoverdose prevention.
A few accepted services include training behavioral health professionals to work with schools in addressing mental health risks, implementing outreach strategies and referral pathways for minority populations and economically disadvantaged communities, and expanding facility capacity and crisis bed availability.
“Every American deserves access to behavioral health services in the communities where they live, and we recognize the urgent need to bolster those services for minority populations and those living in economically disadvantaged communities,” said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, head of SAMHSA and HHS assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, in a news release.