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Mental Health Block Grant Now Open for Public Comment

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Giving public comments is a great way to help make sure that policies are set up in a way that best helps the people that they are intended to serve. The Mississippi Department of Mental Health’s annual block grant application is on its website and open for public comment as of today, Wednesday, August 25. It will remain open for comment through September 14, 2021. We appreciate the Department of Mental Health working with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to make sure there is enough time for everyone who wishes to share their comments.

You can access the PDF of the draft block grant application here. (Note that it’s a large 3.3 MB file.)

Please review the Plan and provide your comments to Lynda Stewart at on or prior to September 14, 2021, by 5:00 p.m.

According to SAMHSA, all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and six Pacific jurisdictions receive Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) funds to provide community mental health services.

These funds are meant to help adults with serious mental illnesses and children with serious emotional disturbances.

SAMHSA expects block grant recipients to satisfy the following performance requirements (italicized print is quoted from the website:

  • They must submit a plan explaining how they will use MHBG funds to provide comprehensive, community mental health services to adults with serious mental illnesses and children with serious emotional disturbances. SAMHSA also requires recipients to provide annual reports on their plans.
  • They may distribute funds to local government entities and non-governmental organizations.
  • They must ensure that community mental health centers provide such services as screening, outpatient treatment, emergency mental health services, and day treatment programs.
  • They must comply with general federal requirements for managing grants. They must also cooperate in efforts by SAMHSA to monitor use of MHBG funds. For example, each year, CMHS conducts investigations (site visits) of at least ten grantees receiving MHBG funds. This is to assess how they are using the funds to benefit the population. These evaluations include careful review of the following:
    • How the grantees are tracking use of MHBG funds and their adult and child mental health programs
    • Data and performance management systems
    • Collaboration with consumers and the grantees’ mental health planning council
  • Grantees receiving MHBG funds are required to form and support a state or territory mental health planning council.

Remember, if you are a parent of a child who has mental health challenges, you are an expert on something that no one else is – your child. You know what most helps them. You may also have ideas about how to make services better that no one else has thought about.  Your ideas matter and we hope you will consider commenting.

[Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash]

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