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SAMHSA Awards Record-Setting $825 Million in Grants to Strengthen Community Mental Health Centers, and Support Americans Living with Serious Emotional Disturbances, Mental Illnesses

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Following up on its commitment to invest $825 million in Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is announcing the distribution of funds to 231 CMHCs across the country.

The funding, which comes from the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021 and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplement (CRRS) Act of 2021, reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to supporting and expanding access to mental health and behavioral support as Americans continue to confront the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CMHCs are community-based facilities or groups of facilities that provide prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation mental health services. This grant program will enable CMHCs to more effectively address the needs of individuals who have a serious emotional disturbance (SED) or serious mental illness (SMI), as well as individuals with SED or SMI and substance use disorders, referred to as a co-occurring disorder (COD).

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from August 2020 through February 2021, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of an anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4 percent to 41.5 percent, and the percentage of those reporting an unmet mental health care need increased from 9.2 percent to 11.7 percent.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of Americans’ lives – these disruptions are especially difficult for people battling mental health disorders,” said U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. “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.”

“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 E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., the U.S. HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “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.”

SAMHSA is requiring the 231 CMHCs to develop a behavioral health disparities impact statement no later than 60 days after receiving their grant awards; to develop a quality-improvement plan to address under-resourced populations’ differences based on access, use and outcomes of service activities; and to identify methods for the development of policies and procedures to ensure adherence to the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care.  

The CMHCs also must provide services that include:

  • Audio and audio-visual, HIPAA-compliant telehealth capabilities;
  • Outpatient services for individuals with SED, SMI, and COD in service areas;
  • Trauma-informed screening, assessment, diagnosis and patient-centered treatment planning and treatment delivery;
  • Clinical and recovery support services (e.g., psychosocial rehabilitation, case management services and peer support); and,
  • Resources to address the mental health needs of CMHC staff.

Allowable services under the grant include:

  • Training behavioral health professionals to work with schools to address behavioral health issues for school-age youth at risk for SED, including attention to services that address the needs of children, particularly as it pertains to school reentry;
  • Providing staff training on behavioral health disparities, including for building cultural and linguistic competence and on using strategies to engage and retain diverse client populations;
  • Expanding capacity and availability of crisis beds;
  • Expanding mobile crisis mental health services for target populations;
  • Developing and implementing outreach strategies and referral pathways for vulnerable populations, such as minority populations and individuals residing in economically disadvantaged communities; and,
  • Training and supporting peer staff to serve as integral members of the team to address mental health needs that may have arisen because of the pandemic – including but not limited to trauma, grief, loneliness and isolation.

Earlier this year, Secretary Becerra formed a new Behavioral Health Coordinating Council (BHCC). Assistant Secretary Delphin-Rittmon and Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine serve as the co-chairs of this coordinating body, which comprises senior leadership from across HHS. The BHCC’s primary goal is to facilitate collaborative, innovative, transparent, equitable, and action-oriented approaches to addressing the Department’s behavioral health agenda. The allowable activities under the CMHCs grant complement the BHCC’s focus areas of 1) crisis and suicide; 2) youth behavioral health; 3) data and evaluation – with a focus on disparities and equity measurement; 4) primary care and behavioral health care integration; and 5) overdose prevention. View the CMHC grant recipients.

To find treatment options for substance use and mental health disorders, call SAMHSA’s 24/7 National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357) or visit

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes.

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