Behavioral Health Services Set to Expand Nationwide Thanks to HHS $36.9 Million Funding Boost

Health and Human Services Announces Upcoming Funding Action to Provide $186 Million for COVID-19 Response

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On February 26, 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an injection of $36.9 million to catalyze behavioral health services across America. The funding, overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is set to improve access to care and bolster the critical workforce of providers through enhanced federal Medicaid funding.

The increased financial support exhibits the government’s commitment to tackling substance abuse and heightening mental health services. “We are furthering our commitment to transforming behavioral health,” emphasized HHS Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm. The bold initiatives come as a response to the increasing mental health crises and, indeed, align with the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities.

Grants ranging from $1.1 million to $10 million have been allocated toward various programs of impact. These include Prevention Technology Transfer Centers, which improve the implementation of substance use prevention strategies, and Community Programs for Outreach and Intervention with Youth and Young Adults at Clinical High Risk for Psychosis that offer trauma-informed interventions for vulnerable youths.

A significant portion of the funding will also support the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program. SBIRT focuses on screening children, adolescents, and adults in various health settings for underage drinking, opioid use, and other substance use challenges.

Another crucial allocation targets first responders. The First Responders-Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act program provides resources for training, administering, and dispensing FDA-approved overdose reversal medications, particularly to populations most at risk of overdoses.

The funds will also enhance academic institutions’ capacity to integrate substance use disorder education early in health professionals’ careers, and boost statewide mental health consumer-based organizations to promote recovery and resilience programs.

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In a decisive move, new guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has expanded the pool of eligible providers for increased Medicaid funding. The inclusion of Masters of Social Work and other master’s-level behavioral healthcare providers aims to bolster the workforce needed to address America’s mental health crisis effectively.

The guidance also green-lights states to claim federal dollars for Nurse Advice Lines. These lines will offer high-quality, non-emergency care, including support for mental health and substance use. They have been especially crucial following the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and in rural regions where access to care can be challenging.

This funding boost and comprehensive approach underline the government’s commitment to tackling mental health crises and substance misuse. The multi-faceted strategies, entailing financial support, workforce enhancement, and innovative initiatives, aim to promote mental health nationwide and bridge the gap between coverage and critical health services.

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