FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 17, 2015
Mike Wessler, Deputy Communications Director, Governor’s Office, (406) 444-9725
Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Helena, Mont-- Governor Steve Bullock announced today the State of Montana is launching a pilot project in five Montana communities that will focus on changing the way community-based mental health services are provided to youth and families.
The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has awarded a total of $1 million ($200,000 each) to five communities: Kalispell, Missoula, Great Falls, Helena, and Billings as part of recently passed legislation referred to as the mental health crisis diversion pilot project, or HB 47 by Rep. Carolyn Pease-Lopez (D-Billings).
“Too many Montana children don’t have the access to the mental health services they need to be safe,” said Bullock. “Montana must continue strengthening programs that keep Montana kid’s closer to their families who can support them in their time of need.”
The providers who received funding are the Center for Mental Health (Great Falls), Youth Homes (Helena and Missoula), Montana Community Services (Billings) and Western Montana Mental Health Center Stillwater (Kalispell).
The intent of the pilot project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of community-based services for youth in need of mental health crisis care. Among several key desired outcomes, the project aims to drastically improve access to mental health services in the community through a 24/7 hotline, significantly reduce costs by diverting youth from more expensive options, and improve communication so families are more aware of available services.
A key part of the funding is measuring the impact this program has on youth and the community being served. Each provider is required to measure and track the outcomes of their program.
As part of his Executive Budget for the current biennium, Bullock proposed and secured from the 2015 legislature historic investments in the mental services to ensure the treatment and safety of individuals. Earlier this week, Bullock announced $1.8 million for jail diversion and crisis intervention strategies for people facing a mental health crisis. Additional awards and programs will be announced in the coming weeks.