Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG)


The MHBG is allocated from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide mental health treatment services to adults with Serious Mental Illness (SMI), children with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED), and individuals with early serious mental illness including first episode of psychosis (ESMI/FEP). The program makes funds available to all 50 states to provide community mental health services. The program’s objective is to support the grantees in carrying out plans for providing comprehensive community mental health services.


MHBG funds are used to provide treatment services in accordance with AHCCCS Medical Policy Manual (AMPM) 300-2B and AMPM 320-T1 and to ensure access to a comprehensive system of care, including employment, housing, case management, rehabilitation, dental, and health services as well as mental health services and supports.

The MHBG Program Targets

Adults with serious mental illness (SMI) This includes persons age 18 and older who have a diagnosable behavioral, mental, or emotional condition as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders. Their condition substantially interferes with, or limits, one or more major life activities, such as:

  • Basic daily living (eating, dressing, hygiene)
  • Instrumental living (taking prescribed medications or getting around in the community)
  • Participating in a family, school, or workplace

Children with serious emotional disturbance (SED) This includes persons up to age 18 who have diagnosable behavioral, mental, or emotional issues (as defined by the DSM). Their condition results in a functional impairment that substantially interferes with, or limits, a child’s role or functioning in family, school, or community activities.

First Episode Psychosis (FEP) The MHBG 10% set aside for Early Serious Mental Illness (ESMI)/First Episode of Psychosis (FEP) are to support evidence-based programs that provide treatment and support services for those who have experienced a first episode of psychosis within the past 2 years. Psychosis is a brain condition that disrupts a person’s thoughts and perceptions, making it difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is not. FEP Program models may include principles or core components identified by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) via the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) initiative.

Crisis Services The MHBG 5% set aside for crisis services is to support an evidence-based crisis system. This funding is to support evidence-based crisis care programs to address the needs of individuals with SMI and SED.

SAMHSA Requirements AHCCCS is the designated unit of the executive branch that is responsible for administering the MHBG. SAMHSA expects block grant recipients to satisfy the following performance requirements:

  • They must submit a plan explaining how they will use MHBG funds to provide comprehensive, community mental health services to adults with serious mental illnesses and children with serious emotional disturbances.
  • SAMHSA requires recipients to provide annual reports on their plans.
  • They may distribute funds to local government entities and non-governmental organizations.
  • They must ensure that community mental health centers provide such services as screening, outpatient treatment, emergency mental health services, and day treatment programs.
  • They must comply with general federal requirements for managing grants. They must also cooperate in efforts by SAMHSA to monitor use of MHBG funds. For example, each year, CMHS conducts investigations (site visits) of at least ten grantees receiving MHBG funds. This is to assess how they are using the funds to benefit the population. These evaluations include careful review of the following:
    • How the grantees are tracking use of MHBG funds and their adult and child mental health programs.
    • Data and performance management systems.
    • Collaboration with consumers and the grantees' mental health planning council.
    • Grantees receiving MHBG funds are required to form and support a state or territory mental health/behavioral health planning council.
  • Grantees receiving MHBG funds are required to form and support a state or territory mental health/behavioral health planning council.

Behavioral Health Planning Council

A mental health/behavioral health planning council ensures collaboration among key state agencies and facilitates member input into the state’s mental health services and activities. The majority (51% or more) of a state’s planning council should be comprised of member and family members.

The council is required to:

  • Include representatives from state education, mental health, rehabilitation, criminal justice, housing, and social services agencies.
  • Include adult members who receive mental health services.
  • Include family members of children with emotional disturbances.

The Behavioral Health Planning Council (BHPC) meeting is open to the public. Please find meeting information including meeting agendas and notes on the AHCCCS Behavioral Health Planning Council website.

Applications and Reports




For additional questions please contact the email address.