New Federal Grant Targets Behavioral Health Services at Nursing Home and Long-Term Care Facilities

The United States has been facing a mental health crisis for years, made only worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our leaders in Washington, D.C. are attempting to address it. A few weeks ago, we covered the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022, bi-partisan legislation introduced on May 6, 2022, which, if made law, would reauthorize key Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) programs.

Since then, on May 20, 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced almost $15 million in funding for a three-year federal grant to establish a SAMHSA program that will strengthen the delivery of behavioral health care services to residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The program will establish a Center of Excellence for Building Capacity in Nursing Facilities to Care for Residents with Behavioral Health Conditions. The goal of the Center for Excellence will be to improve overall health in nursing homes and other facilities by providing direct consultation to staff regarding awareness, reducing stigmatization and building knowledge skills for more effective care of residents. The Center for Excellence is expected to strengthen and sustain effective behavioral health practices and achieve better outcomes for residents with serious mental illness, emotional disturbance, substance use issues or co-occurring mental health and substance use issues. It will ensure the accessibility of evidence-based training and technical assistance focused on mental health disorder identification, treatment and recovery support services.

The grant will be funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services using Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) funds collected from nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that are not in substantial compliance with one or more Medicare or Medicaid program participation requirements. The grant is expected to be awarded in late FY 2022.

The nursing home and long-term care mental health grant is part of the Biden administration’s plan to address the mental health service needs of Americans, which he outlined in his March 2022 State of the Union address. His plan focuses on the following:

  1. Strengthening system capacity to address the severe shortage of behavioral health providers. In order to do this, the Biden administration says it will, among other things: a) invest ($700 M in the FY 23 budget) in proven programs that bring providers into the behavioral health field, b) pilot new approaches to train a diverse group of paraprofessionals, c) promote the mental well-being of frontline health care workers, and d) launch the 988 crisis response line and strengthen community-based crisis response.
  2. Connecting Americans to care. This includes among other things: a) expanding and strengthening mental and physical health care parity, b) integrating mental health and substance use treatment into primary care settings, c) improving veterans’ access to same-day mental health care, d) expanding access to tele- and virtual mental health care options, and e) increasing behavioral health navigation resources.
  3. Supporting Americans by creating healthy environments. This includes, among other things: a) strengthening children’s privacy and banning targeted advertising for children online, b) instituting stronger online protections for young people, c) stopping discriminatory algorithmic decision-making that limits opportunities for young Americans, d) expanding early childhood and school-based intervention services and supports, and e) training social and human services professionals in basic mental health skills.

You can read a full description of the Biden administration’s plans regarding mental health on whitehouse.gov.

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