HHS announces $27.5M in funding to address women's behavioral health needs

A variety of government and healthcare organizations are now eligible to tap into newly announced funding by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The $27.5 million aims to help address women’s behavioral health needs.

The latest funding is made possible by the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan. It is intended to support women’s behavioral health by expanding access to services and enhancing the capacity of providers to identify and address mental health conditions, substance use and gender-based violence.

“Ensuring the mental health and well-being of expectant and new mothers is a top priority for the Department of Health and Human Services,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in an announcement. “By funding community-based maternal behavioral health services, we can offer critical support to women and ultimately invest in America’s families.”

The funding is available through two programs. One will focus on community-based maternal behavioral health services, with $15 million available. Its goal is to improve access to timely, culturally appropriate and evidence-based maternal mental health and substance use treatment. The program aims to strengthen community referral pathways and make transitions in care smoother for pregnant women, particularly those at risk for or with a behavioral health condition in the perinatal and postpartum periods. 

Six awards are anticipated. Eligible applicants include state, local, Tribal and territorial governments, Tribal organizations, community-based organizations, primary care and behavioral health organizations that want to address community behavioral health needs worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The other program will support a women’s behavioral health technical assistance center, backed by $12.5 million. It aims to improve the capacity of women’s behavioral health providers, general healthcare providers and others involved in treating women with diverse needs in a holistic way. The program aims to identify and improve the implementation of evidence-based practices in women’s behavioral health. That could include consultation, coaching, learning communities and online educational materials. 

One award is anticipated and the same applicants are eligible as with the community-based services program.

The applications for both programs are due near the end of August.