The Biden administration will be investing $825 million into community centers nationwide to expand access to mental health and behavioral support services.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will distribute the investment, which was announced Tuesday and consists of 231 grants to federally-designated Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs). Funding for the grants comes from the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplement (CRRS) Act.
Both the CAA, which is a $2.3 trillion funding bill, and the CRRS Act were signed into law last December by President Trump in his final weeks in office.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of Americans’ lives – these disruptions are especially difficult for people battling mental health disorders,” U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “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.”
CMHCs are community-based facilities or groups of facilities that provide mental health services of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. As part of the SAMHSA funding, the 231 CMHCs must develop a behavioral health disparities impact statement no later than 60 days after receiving the grant.
The selected CMHCs must also provide such services as HIPAA-compliant telehealth capabilities, outpatient treatment for serious emotional disturbances or mental illnesses, as well as expanded mobile mental health crisis services for targeted populations. Last week, the Biden administration announced $15 million in planning grants to improve access for Medicaid enrollees to mobile crisis services.
The administration also said that the grants were part of efforts specifically to improve access to mental health services for underserved and minority populations amidst COVID. Since the onset of the pandemic, behavioral health conditions nationwide have worsened and substance use disorder rates have risen, contributing to record numbers of overdose deaths.
“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,” Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our ability to ensure timely access to treatment services and recovery supports. This funding will help CMHCs address local needs, which have become even more urgent in the past year.”