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Behavioral Health Expansion — How FQHCs Can Participate

At the end of April, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released details of new grants designed to increase access to behavioral health services and improve the quality of care. This article will look at these grants and how Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) can participate in the expansion.


New Grants Signal Opportunity for FQHCs

We are living in troubling times. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll showed nearly half of American adults say their mental health has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Isolation, stress, and unemployment are high, and they’ve all led to poorer mental health outcomes for the U.S. population.


SAMHSA’s announcement of the expansion of behavioral health services in the U.S. couldn’t come at a better time. The Health and Human Services (HHS) website reports $200 million in annual funding, and $250 million in emergency COVID-19 funding is now available. $360 million has been awarded in response to the COVID-19 emergency to date.


Established community behavioral health clinics can make use of this funding to expand mental health and substance abuse treatment to at-risk populations and existing patients through the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) Expansion grant program. The SAMHSA website suggests the grants are to “increase access to and improve the quality of community mental and substance use disorder treatment services through the expansion of CCBHCs.”


Currently, there are more than 200 CCBHCs in 33 states, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH). If your FQHC offers these services, you can apply for the CCBHC Expansion grant, which can be used to expand the nine typical types of services offered in these clinics:


  • Crisis mental health services
  • Risk assessment, including screening and diagnosis
  • Patient-centered treatment planning
  • Outpatient services for mental health and substance use
  • Primary care and healthcare monitoring
  • Case management
  • Psychiatric rehabilitation
  • Peer and family support
  • Community-based mental healthcare for veterans and active-duty members


The value of CCBHC’s cannot be discounted; the NCBH has this to say about these community healthcare providers:


“Among other exciting advances, CCBHCs are increasing access to mental health and addiction treatment; expanding capacity to address the opioid crisis; collaborating with partners in hospitals, jails, prisons and schools; and attracting and retaining qualified staff who offer science-based, trauma-informed services – often on the same day patients present for care.”


Currently, the SAMHSA website reports there is $197 million in grants available and an anticipated 98 awards to be given. Existing FQHCs with CCBHCs or with clinics not yet certified but meet the criteria can apply for up to $2 million in additional funding.


CCBHCs serve an important underserved niche in our population. They are designed to provide easier access to treatment regardless of the patient’s ability to pay and no matter where they live. These clinics service at-risk low-income populations, including children who have serious emotional disturbances, people are struggling with chronic addictions, adults with severe mental illness, and veterans. They are an important safety net for an American population reeling from the coronavirus.


UHC Solutions is proud of our partnership with the FQHC community. If your organization is seeking staffing solutions to ramp up your CCBHC, we can help.


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