Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG)


The MHBG is allocated from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide community-based mental health services to adults with Serious Mental Illnesses (SMI), children with Serious Emotional Disturbances (SED), and individuals with Early Serious Mental Illness including First Episode of Psychosis (ESMI/FEP). The MHBG is also utilized to monitor progress in implementing a comprehensive, community based mental health system. Funds are allocated to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and 6 Pacific jurisdictions to supplement Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance services.


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

The MHBG Program Targets

Adults designated with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) including individuals 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 and the symptoms of this 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 designated with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) Includes individuals from birth until the age of 18 who currently meet or at any time during the past year have had a diagnosable mental or emotional disorder of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that resulted in functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits the child’s role or functioning in family, school, or community activities.

Early Serious Mental Illness including First Episode Psychosis (ESMI/FEP) SAMHSA mandates a 10% set aside of all MHBG funding to support Early Serious Mental Illness (ESMI)/First Episode of Psychosis (FEP). Individuals experiencing a first onset of serious mental illness which can include a first episode of psychosis may manifest as symptoms that include problems in perception, thinking, mood and social functioning. An individual may be early in the course of a psychotic illness or treatment irrespective of being in the midst of a first ‘episode’ of illness.

Crisis Services The MHBG 5% set aside for crisis services is to support an evidence-based crisis system.

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 members 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.

This planning council provides input on the mental health plan submitted to SAMHSA. The Behavioral Health Planning Council (BHPC) meetings are 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.