Back to School: HHS Announces $40.22 Million in Youth Mental Health Grants Awarded in August Plus $47.6 Million in New Grant Funding Opportunities for School-Based Mental Health Program



The $47.6 million in new grant funding opportunities were developed from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced that it awarded $40.22 million in youth mental health grants throughout the month of August. This includes $5.3 million from American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding intended to address pandemic-related stressors that have increased mental health conditions among younger Americans. HHS also announced $47.6 million in new grant funding opportunities developed from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

The grants awarded in August and the grant opportunities announced today are part of HHS’ latest effort to answer President Biden’s State of the Union call to address the nation’s mental health crisis, including its impact on children, as well as further the goals of the Secretary’s National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health, which was launched the day after the State of the Union.

“The number of children in America diagnosed with anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions is on the rise,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “It’s time to heed President Biden’s call to strengthen mental health in America, especially for our littlest ones. Young or old, we deserve a chance to build resilience and thrive.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the ongoing mental health crisis for the nation’s youth. SAMHSA’s 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) previously reported that among adolescents ages 12-17, 12% said they had serious thoughts of suicide, 5.3% made a suicide plan, and 2.5% percent attempted suicide in the past year. Those who experienced a major depressive episode reported they were more likely than those who did not to feel that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected their mental health “quite a bit or a lot.”

Between 2016 and 2020, the number of children ages 3-17 years diagnosed with anxiety grew by 29% and those with depression by 27%, according to data from the HHS Health Resources & Services Administration’s (HRSA) National Survey of Children’s Health. And from 2019 and 2020, 21% more children were diagnosed with behavioral or conduct problems.

In 2020, suicide was the second leading cause of death for young people aged 10-14 and 25-34, according to a report by the HHS Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“These alarming trends tell us that too many young people in this country are experiencing mental health-related distress without the support and care they need,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “SAMHSA is responding by developing and expanding grant programs that address the mental health needs of children and youth across the country.”

Anyone seeking treatment for mental health conditions should call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357) or visit findtreatment.samhsa.gov

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

Reporters with questions should send inquiries to media@samhsa.hhs.gov.

About the $40.22 Million in Grants Awarded by HHS in August

The $40.22 million in grant funds awarded by HHS in August includes:

  1. $13.9 million total ($5.3 million from ARP funding) for Project Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education (AWARE), to develop a sustainable infrastructure for school-based mental health programs and services that promote the healthy social and emotional development of school-aged youth and prevent youth violence in school settings.
  2. $1.5 million for Statewide Family Networks, to enhance the capacity of statewide mental health family-controlled organizations to engage with family members/primary caregivers who are raising children, youth, and young adults with serious emotional disturbance (SED)
  3. $7.3 million for Community Programs for Outreach and Intervention with Youth and Young Adults at Clinical High Risk for Psychosis, to identify, prevent, intervene, and/or lessen the impact of psychotic disorders in youth and adults 25 and younger who are at clinical high risk for psychosis, and to provide evidence-based interventions in a trauma-informed manner to prevent the onset of psychosis.
  4. $3.6 million for Mental Health Awareness Training grants (MHAT), to prepare and train individuals including school personnel, emergency first responders, law enforcement, veterans, armed services members and their families to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental disorders, particularly serious mental illness (SMI) and/or serious emotional disturbances (SED); establish linkages with school- and/or community-based mental health agencies to refer individuals with the signs or symptoms of mental illness to appropriate services; train emergency services personnel, law enforcement, fire department personnel, veterans, and others to identify persons with a mental disorder and employ crisis de-escalation techniques; and educate individuals about resources that are available in the community for individuals with a mental disorder.
  5. SAMHSA has additionally issued an advisory on Expanding Implementation of MHAT in the Workplace to increase awareness of, and sensitivity to, the needs of individuals with or at risk for mental illnesses and/or suicide. The workplace is an opportune venue for promoting mental health awareness, given employment rates and the amount of time spent every day with colleagues. This advisory lists resources available for organizations to have a comprehensive plan for supporting employees’ mental health.
  6. $1.9 million for the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Program, to improve outcomes for children from birth to age 12 with significant risk of developing, showing early signs of, or having been diagnosed with a mental illness, serious emotional disturbance (SED) and/or symptoms that may be indicative of developing SED in children, including children with a history of in-utero exposure to substances such as opioids, stimulants or other drugs that may impact development.
  7. $720,000 for Statewide Consumer Networks, to enhance statewide consumer-run organizations’ to promote mental health and related service system capacity and infrastructure development, particularly addressing the needs of underserved and under-represented consumers, including those from ethnic, racial, or cultural minority groups; sexual orientation and gender minority individuals; those with histories of chronic homelessness or involvement with the criminal justice system; and those with mental health and co-occurring disorders (COD).
  8. $11.3 million for Expansion and Sustainability of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances (Systems of Care), to improve mental health outcomes for children and youth, birth through age 21, with SED and their families. This program supports the implementation, expansion, and integration of the System of Care (SOC) approach by creating sustainable infrastructure and services that are required as part of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and their Families Program (also known as the Children’s Mental Health Initiative or CMHI).

About the $47.6 Million in New Grant Opportunities Announced by HHS Today

Signed by President Joe Biden on June 25, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act implements changes to the mental health care system, school safety programs and gun safety laws and provides $800 million in funding to SAMHSA. $47.6 million of that funding will provide new grant opportunities for school-based mental health programs:

  1. $37.6 million for Project Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education (AWARE) to develop a sustainable infrastructure for school-based mental health programs and services that promote the healthy social and emotional development of school-aged youth and prevent youth violence in school settings
  2. $10 million for the Resiliency in Communities after Stress and Trauma (ReCAST) grant program, which helps assist high-risk youth and families by promoting resilience and equity in communities that have recently faced civil unrest, community violence, and/or collective trauma through implementation of evidence-based, violence prevention, and community youth engagement programs, as well as linkages to trauma-informed behavioral health services.

The new grant funding opportunities build on previous actions announced by HHS earlier this year. On August 18, HHS announced key actions to strengthen and expand access to high-quality, comprehensive health care for children across the country.

In addition, on July 29, Secretary Becerra and U.S. Department of Education (ED) Secretary Miguel Cardona sent a letter to governors calling on them to invest more in mental health services for students. This letter followed a joint HHS-ED effort launched on March 24 to expand school-based health services, ensuring children have access to the health services and supports necessary to build resilience and promote wellbeing. The joint HHS-ED effort was a direct response to President Biden’s call following the State of the Union to develop guidance that will help schools leverage Medicaid for mental health support for students.

About Secretary Becerra’s National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health

Following President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address on March 1, 2022, Secretary Xavier Becerra kicked off the National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health to hear directly from Americans across the country about the behavioral health challenges they are facing and engage with local leaders on innovative ways to strengthen the mental health and crisis care system in our communities. More information on the National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health is available at HHS.gov/HHSTour.