Colorado receives $94 million federal funding boost for behavioral health services

The Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) will receive more than $94 million in additional federal block grant funding to increase substance use and mental health services over the next four years as the state responds to higher demand brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

OBH has worked with stakeholders, including the state’s Behavioral Health Planning and Advisory Council and a diverse group of providers, to determine priorities for the stimulus funds. Among dozens of projects, OBH will use the first round of stimulus dollars, totaling more than $43 million, to fund equity, diversity and inclusion efforts; peer support and recovery services; and treatment for people with severe mental illness (SMI) and substance use disorder.

“As we contend with exacerbated behavioral health needs in Colorado, this funding will help us meet the demands driven by COVID and even expand services across the state,” said Robert Werthwein, director of OBH. “We are grateful to our federal partners for recognizing the importance of the problem and giving us the tools to address the crisis.”

As part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded OBH an additional $27.1 million for the state’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant program (SABG) and an additional $16.2 million for its Community Mental Health Services block grant program (MHBG) that must be spent by March 14, 2023. The block grants are managed by OBH and are noncompetitive federal awards that fund behavioral health services in all 50 states. 

On top of this boost, OBH will receive another $23.4 million and $28.1 million for the SABG and MHBG programs, respectively, through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) stimulus package. OBH must spend these dollars by Sept. 30, 2025, and is working to draft a spending plan bolstering programs that have experienced increased demand during the pandemic. Many of the priorities from the CRRSA funds will be extended with the ARPA funds. The State’s plan for the ARPA funds is due July 2.

The preliminary spending plan for the $43 million in CRRSA funds includes the following allocations for the next two years. Funding amounts could change depending on bills passed in the 2022 legislative session or emerging priorities. 

Mental Health and Substance Use Funding Plan for CRRSA Funds

  • $5.28 million for peer-based recovery support services connected to SUD treatment providers, including for those who were involuntarily committed to SUD treatment. Funding will be made available through the state’s Managed Service Organizations
  • $5 million for residential substance use treatment, withdrawal management (detox) and involuntary commitment services
  • $4.9 million for workforce supports, including training for peer specialists and efforts to recruit more Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) into the behavioral health field
  • $4.84 million for programs to support the mental health of children, youth and young adults
  • $3 million for Assertive Community Treatment or community-based treatment for adults with SMI
  • $2.8 million for Individual Placement and Support, a program that helps people with mental illness and/or substance use disorders find and keep jobs
  • $2.6 million for programs that connect moms and pregnant and parenting people to behavioral health and recovery services
  • $2.35 million for the behavioral health crisis system, including secure transportation and marketing to diverse populations
  • $1.875 million for the State’s Forward Together prevention campaign 
  • $1.875 million to expand substance misuse screening in schools 
  • $1.68 million for programs that prevent substance misuse among youth, especially within BIPOC and LGBTQ communities 
  • $1.5 million for peer-based mental health and substance use services across the state, including for Tribal and Latinx communities
  • $1.05 million for recovery housing and housing support for people with SMI who are unhoused
  • $700,000 for SUD services for Tribal populations across the state
  • $600,000 for a behavioral health public education campaign related to the impacts of the pandemic 
  • $600,000 for an equity and community engagement director position, translating OBH forms and branding materials, and community outreach grants for organizations working with EDI populations
  • $450,000 for OBH’s bed capacity registry 

About $2.3 million of the CRRSA grant funds will support OBH administrative costs.

This press release was provided by the Colorado Department of Human Services.