What is the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant Program?

The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant is authorized by Part B of Title XIX of the Public Health Service Act and is the single largest Federal contribution dedicated to improving mental health service systems across the country. The Center for Mental Health Services’ Community Mental Health Services Block Grant awards grants to the States to provide mental health services to people with mental disorders. Through the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, a joint Federal-State partnership, CMHS supports existing public services and encourages the development of creative and cost-effective systems of community-based care for people with serious mental disorders. With the current changes in the health care delivery system, improving access to community-based systems is especially important. CMHS is the Federal agency that oversees State Mental Health Plans and Implementation Reports, using mental health experts for the regional consultative application review process.

Who does the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant Program serve?

o In communities throughout the United States, mental disorders affect people of all ages and in all walks of life. Almost 54 million adults in the United States are affected by mental disorders in any given year.

o Preliminary studies indicate that more than 12 million children (20 percent of all children) in the United States experience mental and emotional disturbances while growing up.

o Each year in the United States, more than 5 million adults and children are diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, and other serious mental disorders. People with these disorders have extensive and complex needs, and most individuals quickly exhaust available insurance benefits. At that point, they and their families often turn to their States and the public system of mental health care.

What does the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant Program do?

o Because what is effective in one State may not be effective in another, the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant works in close collaboration with each State or Territory to develop and implement its own State Mental Health Plan for improving community-based services and reducing reliance on hospitalization. The program stipulates that case management be provided to individuals with the most serious mental disorders and encourages appropriate partnerships among a wide range of health, dental, mental health, vocational, housing, and educational services. The program also promotes partnerships among Federal, State, and local government agencies.

o The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant supports grassroots involvement of the major stakeholders in mental health services at both the State and the Federal levels. Each State or Territory is required to have a mental health planning council to review the State Mental Health Plan. Each council must include consumers of mental health services and family members, as well as service providers and State officials. The State also is required to seek comments from the public on its plan.

o At the Federal level, mental health planning council members-including family members, consumers, State officials, and service providers-serve as CMHS reviewers of State Mental Health Plans and Implementation Reports. They often share their expertise at regional and national technical assistance meetings.

What types of technical assistance does CMHS provide?

Five percent of funding is set aside for the Center for Mental Health Services to provide technical assistance, data collection, and evaluation activities to States and territories and their representatives, as well as mental health

o The Mental Health Statistics Improvement Program, designed to develop minimum data standards that provide a basis for uniform, comparable, high-quality statistics on mental health services;

o The National Reporting Program, the only national source of information on mental health organizations, services, and service recipients; and

o National Technical Assistance Centers: one of which evaluates systems that serve children, another of which evaluates systems that serve adults, and the third of which provides technical assistance to the States for mental health planning.

CMHS conducts national and regional technical assistance meetings dealing with the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant application process, the enhancement of existing systems of community mental health services, strategies for transitioning into a managed care environment, development of a national set of mental health objectives, and use of consumer outcome objectives.

o Community Mental Health Services Block Grant Funding

For free information about the Mental Health Block Grant Program and other CMHS programs – including publications, references, and referrals to local and national resources and organizations – call 1.800.789.2647; (TDD) 1.866.889.2647.