TUESDAY, Oct. 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) – As part of a federal government effort to expand the U.S. network of community mental health centers, up to 15 states now can apply for $1 million grants to help plan new Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) in their region, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Tuesday.

Funding for the grants was included in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed earlier this year. These crisis centers are available around the clock to help anyone with mental health or substance abuse problems, regardless of their ability to pay. The $15 million in additional planning funds is in addition to nearly $300 million awarded in September for new and existing CCBHCs, the agency said.

“Today we’re talking about providing to Americans 24/7 support for crisis care,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said during a media briefing. “That’s something that’s only been available to some. Depending on your income and your ZIP code, you could be totally out of luck. That’s going to start to change.”

The strategy is to provide enough funding that at least 10 more states will be able to open their own local CCBHCs every two years, gradually expanding a network of crisis centers across the nation, said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, a leader of the bipartisan 2014 Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act that created CCBHCs.

Ten states – Michigan, Missouri, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania – are operating CCBHCs as part of a demonstration program created by the 2014 law. Early next year, federal officials expect to name up to 15 states that will receive $1 million one-year planning grants. From that group, 10 states will be selected in 2024 to join the demonstration project.

“People who receive services at CCBHCs show a 72 percent reduction in hospitalization; 69 percent reduction in emergency room visits; 41 percent decrease in homelessness; and they spent 60 percent less time in jails,” said the law’s other major sponsor, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan.

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