The SDoMH Funding Frenzy

World Mental Health Day is Oct. 10, and the funding frenzy is on.

Mental health was a priority pre-pandemic, but such issues have risen across every population over the last 21 months, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized populations. For my colleagues in hospital emergency departments and community health centers, the situation has reached crisis proportions; patients are waiting from days to weeks for appropriate beds and other services.

These latest awards total close to $1 billion for organizations and their communities to mitigate the social determinants of mental health (SDoMH).

First up, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded over $825M to community mental health centers around the U.S.; these community-based facilities (or groups of facilities) provide prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation mental health services. Funding is being provided through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. The grants require the 231 centers to:

  • Develop a behavioral health disparities impact statement within 60 days of funding receipt;
  • Form a quality improvement plan to address under-resourced populations’ differences based on access, use, and outcomes of service activities;
  • Identify methods for development of policies and procedures to ensure adherence to National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care;
  • Services must include audio and audio-visual, HIPAA-compliant telehealth capabilities and outpatient services for persons with serious emotional disturbance, serious mental illness, substance use, and co-occurring disorders; and
  • Finally, trauma-informed screening, assessment, diagnosis, and patient-centered treatment planning and delivery must be incorporated. I’ll be discussing trauma-informed principles on my appearance tomorrow on Talk-Ten-Tuesdays.

Next, CMS awarded $15M to 20 states for planning grants to support expansion of community-based mobile crisis intervention services for Medicaid recipients. These services are comprised of professionals trained to de-escalate and treat individuals in substance-use related or behavioral health crisis, then intervene with assessment and stabilization of persons in the least restrictive setting. The goal is to divert individuals with mental illness from jail and emergency departments. Funding is via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and will expand the 24/7 delivery of mobile crisis intervention units across Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Finally, $50M was awarded by the National Institutes of Health to University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC). The Center will lead a multi-institutional coordinating initiative focused on community engagement, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and health equity research. Busting the implicit bias associated with artificial intelligence is a necessity to leverage the technology and mitigate gaps in health and mental healthcare. More funding is on the horizon; I’ll be watching closely for further awards.

In recognition of National Mental Illness Awareness Week, we checked in with our Monitor Mondays listeners on whether their facilities and programs continue to experience discharge or follow-up appointment delays for patients awaiting mental health treatment; the results appear here.

Programming Note: Listen to Ellen Fink-Samnick’s live reporting of SDoH every Monday on Monitor Mondays, 10 Eastern.


Ellen Fink-Samnick, MSW, ACSW, LCSW, CCM, CRP

Ellen Fink-Samnick is an award-winning healthcare industry expert. She is the esteemed author of books, articles, white papers, and knowledge products. A subject matter expert on the Social Determinants of Health, her latest books, The Essential Guide to Interprofessional Ethics for Healthcare Case Management and Social Determinants of Health: Case Management’s Next Frontier (with foreword by Dr. Ronald Hirsch), are published through HCPro. She is a panelist on Monitor Mondays, frequent contributor to Talk Ten Tuesdays, and member of the RACmonitor Editorial Board.

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