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State Gets $12 Million for Children's Mental Health

A new federal grant will help make mental health services for Minnesota children more coordinated, community-focused, and collaborative.

The four-year $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) supports an approach called “systems of care,” which relies on linking and expanding community-based services to keep kids at home and in school. The purpose of the grant is to improve outcomes for children, youth and young adults who experience serious mental illnesses, and their families.

“One of our department’s top three clinical priorities is serious mental illness, and we know that many mental health conditions first appear in childhood or youth,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “HHS continues to support communities and families in meeting the mental health needs of young people at the earliest opportunity, and we are pleased to support Minnesota in their work on the ground.”

Minnesota is one of eight states to receive the grant, which builds on 24 years of experience since SAMHSA first began to explore the systems of care approach. Systems of care focuses on coordination between agencies that serve children and expansion of proven, innovative services.

The grant will support mental health and related recovery support services for children, youth and young adults with serious mental illnesses and their families, and those showing early signs and symptoms of serious mental illness, including first episode psychosis. The grant will also fund services and referrals for families caring for these youth.

NAMI Minnesota will have a role to play in the grant including engaging families of children with mental illness in helping to shape the system of care model, developing parent networks and peer support, and training parents to navigate the system.

Other partners include the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health, Wilder Research and the University of Minnesota. DHS worked with multiple partners to develop the systems of care effort, including the state departments of Corrections, Education, and Health.

Data collected shows that children and youth who have previously received system of care services experienced positive behavioral and emotional health and educational outcomes.

Thirty-six counties, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the University of Minnesota, child-serving collaboratives and community and advocacy organizations will pilot systems of care across the state. The grant begins on Sept. 30 and runs until 2021. Planning and development is already underway.