UPDATED: SAMHSA Changes Substance Abuse and Mental Health Block Grants - Your Comments (Still) Needed!

SAMHSA has revamped its block grant applications for substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment services. You can submit comments by emailing Summer King, SAMHSA Reports Clearance Officer on or before June 9, 2011. [We were incorrectly informed June 3rd was the deadline.]
What are the proposed changes?  Here's the SAMHSA press release (with minor edits):
adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_pointerSAMHSA Introduces Guidance Changing Its Block Grant Programs to Reflect New Opportunities Provided by Parity, Health Reform and Emerging Science
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced a new approach for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG) and the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) in the April 11, 2011 Federal Register.

Under this new approach states and territories will have the opportunity to use block grant dollars for prevention, treatment, recovery supports and other services that supplement services covered by Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance. The block grant funds will be directed to four purposes:


  • Fund priority treatment and support services for individuals without insurance or for whom coverage is terminated for short periods of time.
  • Fund those priority treatment and support services not covered by Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance for low-income individuals and that demonstrate success in improving outcomes and/or supporting recovery.
  • Fund primary prevention – universal, selective and indicated prevention activities and services for persons not yet identified as needing treatment.
  • Collect performance and outcome data to determine the ongoing effectiveness of behavioral health promotion, treatment and recovery support services and plan the implementation of new services on a nationwide basis.

SAMHSA will be working with states and territories to consider new factors in their redesigned plans such as:

  • Taking a broader approach in reaching beyond the populations they have historically served through block grants.
  • Conducting a needs assessment and developing a plan that will identify and analyze the strengths, needs and priorities of the state/territory’s behavioral health system – painting a more complete picture of their behavioral system.
  • Designing and developing collaborative plans for health information systems­grants and other funding.
  • Forming strategic partnerships to provide individuals better access to good and modern behavioral health services.
  • Increasing focus on recovery for person experiencing mental health problems and substance use problems.
  • Redesigning systems and services to be more accountable for improving the caliber and performance of services funded.
  • Describing tribal consultation activities.

Currently the two SAMHSA block grant programs have been administered somewhat differently by separate SAMHSA centers, and states have had idiosyncratic structures and timing for accepting, planning and accounting for these grants. In an effort to streamline application and funding procedures, SAMHSA is now issuing guidance promoting consistent application, assurance and reporting dates across both block grants and offering states and territories the option to submit one coordinated plan for both grants.

>>Detailed information about proposed changes to the block grant programs, including application policies.

UPDATE May 24, 2011
First, you can learn more about SAMHSA's mental health services and substance abuse prevention and treatment block grants here. 
Second, SAMHSA looking specifically for comments on the following (hat tip to Rob Vincent and this SAMHSA blog post ):

  • Whether the proposed collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility;
  • The accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Again, the way to commit is to email them to Summer King, SAMHSA Reports Clearance Officer, on or before June 9, 2011. [We were incorrectly informed June 3rd was the deadline.]

Photo: Tim Morgan.

Updated: February 08 2018