Big Sky Roundup

$8 million in behavioral health funds to go towards mobile crisis response and worker training

By: - January 22, 2024 5:05 pm

The Montana State Flag flies in front of the Montana State Capitol in Helena on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. (Photo by Mike Clark for the Daily Montanan)

The second slice of the $300 million pie for behavioral health improvements in Montana will be going to mobile crisis response as well as developing training for new mental health professionals.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced the $8 million allocation Monday, with $7.5 million going towards mobile crisis response and stabilization services and $500,000 to the development of a crisis worker curriculum and certification course.

The Behavioral Health System for Future Generations Commission, established under House Bill 875, recommended the investment choices to the governor.

The $300 million investment was a priority in the governor’s budget proposal prior to the 2023 session. Bill sponsor Rep. Bob Keenan, R-Big Fork, shepherded the bill through the legislature and now is the chairperson of the commission, alongside state health department Director Charlie Brereton.

The investment in the mobile crisis response and stabilization services is meant to help Montanans who need additional support outside of crisis line de-escalation efforts, like the 988 suicide prevention hotline, and divert patients from local emergency departments, jails, and state-run health care facilities.

The state’s investment in crisis worker training is intended to help in the effort to meet the rising demand for highly trained behavioral health crisis professionals in Montana.

“With this investment, Montanans who are experiencing a crisis will have greater access to the support they need to get back on their feet,” Gianforte said in a statement.

Gianforte announced last month the first allocation of funds from the $300 million total last month, with $7.5 million going towards the completing county court-ordered forensic fitness evaluations, as the backlog of uncompleted evaluations led to a backlog of people to be seen at the state hospital.

Another $10 million was sent to provide one-time grants to community providers offering behavioral health care or developmental disability services to Montanans.

The commission is tasked with developing recommendations to the governor towards stabilizing behavioral health and developmental disabilities service providers, increasing mental health providers in the state and supporting the establishment of care facilities for those with intellectual disabilities.

The commission will meet again on Tuesday, March 5 at the University of Providence campus in Great Falls.

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