American Rescue Plan Act: Funding for Mental Health and Substance Use Services

We know multiple stressors during the last two years—isolation, sickness, grief, job loss, food instability, and loss of routines—have devastated many Wisconsinites, creating behavioral health challenges across the state. Addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other events on mental health and substance use is our top priority.

Transforming our system of care

With the support of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, we are investing $47 million to increase community-level supports for people who have been experiencing mental health and substance use challenges. Much of this funding will be distribution through an application process. Sign up to receive notices of our grant funding opportunities.

Our plan for this funding was developed in collaboration with key partners in Wisconsin's mental health and substance use services system, including tribal and county health and human services staff, service providers, advocates for people with mental health and substance use challenges, and people in need of help.

Mental health services

We have received $24.6 million in supplemental Community Mental Health Services Block Grant funds. This funding enables us to support comprehensive community mental health services and address needs and gaps in existing treatment services for those with severe mental health conditions. 

Strengthening the crisis services system: $16.6 million

Improving access to local and regionally based crisis services makes it possible for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to receive the care they need, avoid unnecessary institutional stays, and minimize burdens on law enforcement. This funding will support the development of regional stabilization models, improvements to real-time coordination of linked and flexible services tailored to the individual crisis response, and the development of shared regional dispatch for mobile crisis teams. County crisis programs also will receive additional support. This funding also will support the rollout of 988, the new calling code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for people experiencing a suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Responding to early serious mental illness and first episode psychosis: $2.5 million

People who experience a first onset of serious mental illness, which can include a first episode of psychosis, may experience symptoms that include problems in perception (such as seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling something that is not real), thinking (such as believing in something that is not real even when presented with facts), mood, and social functioning. There are effective treatments available and the earlier that an individual receives treatment, the greater likelihood that these treatments can lead to better outcomes and enable people to live full and productive lives with their family and friends. This funding will expand access to training for clinical staff in responding to first episode psychosis to give clinical staff the information they need to help their clients thrive. It also expands the number of coordinated specialty care sites for early intervention for individuals experiencing a first episode of psychosis.

Update: A grant funding opportunity announcement was issued in December inviting counties and tribes to apply for funding to support coordinated specialty care services. Applications were due in January. No acceptable applications were submitted. We are exploring other options to identify counties and tribes that may be able to use this funding for this purpose. 

Expanding community-based care: $5.5 million

Community-based services are at the heart of Wisconsin's mental health services system. This funding builds on our previous work to make community-based services more available to all state residents by continuing support for wraparound as an evidence-based practice to support youth with severe emotional disturbance, expanding access to recovery support and peer support services, and developing a warmline or a hotline that offers emotional support and is staffed by volunteers who are in recovery themselves.

Update: Mental Health America of Wisconsin has been awarded a grant to develop and operate a statewide warmline. This service is expected to be available by the end of 2022.

Substance use services

We have received $22 million in supplemental Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funds. This funding enables us to support comprehensive community substance use services and address needs and gaps in existing services for people experiencing substance use challenges. 

County and tribal system support: $4.55 million

County and tribal health and human services agencies are responsible for delivering services and providing for the well-being, treatment, and care of individuals living with substance use concerns. This often is done in partnership with community-based agencies and organizations. These agencies will receive funding they can use to address the unique substance use issues facing their communities.

Prevention activities: $3.5 million

Substance use prevention activities focus on changing the way people think, feel, and act with regard to alcohol and other drugs. The goal is to build healthy communities by reducing harmful substance use or substance use that affects a person's overall well-being. This funding will provide additional resources to regional substance use prevention centers, which will work with community substance use prevention coalitions on strategies to address local needs. This funding also will support substance use prevention programs for youth, including those that target tobacco use, and prevention activities related to opioids for communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic.

Harm reduction: $2.5 million

Harm reduction refers to efforts that reduce the negative consequences of harmful substance use. Our plan expands evidence-based harm reduction strategies focused on communities most vulnerable to an opioid overdose. To save lives, we are expanding access to NARCAN®, the opioid overdose reversal drug. This will be done through leave behind programs in which EMS providers and law enforcement officers offer a free NARCAN® kit at the response scene to a person who was revived from an opioid overdose, NaloxBoxes or boxes filled with NARCAN® in public locations, and a program that will distribute NARCAN® to Wisconsin residents leaving jails and prisons.

Crisis services: $2 million

Improving access to crisis services makes it possible for individuals experiencing a substance use crisis to receive the care they need, avoid unnecessary institutional stays, and minimize burdens on law enforcement. Our plan expands and enhances substance use crisis response services in part by providing professionals working in this area more training on the best practices for working with people experiencing a substance use crisis.

Medication-assisted treatment telehealth expansion: $1 million

Medication-assisted treatment is considered to be the most effective treatment approach for opioid use disorder. Right now, many people in Wisconsin have to travel great distances to access a provider offering medication-assisted treatment. Providing medication-assisted treatment through telehealth reduces this disparity and allows more state residents to access this service. Our plan supports the development of infrastructure to provide medication-assisted treatment through telehealth to anyone in the state who needs it if it is not available locally.

Women treatment services: $2 million

Women seeking substance use disorder treatment face unique barriers and issues compared to men. Our plan expands both care coordination and opportunities for women to access residential treatment programs.

Recovery and peer support expansion: $4 million

When facing a substance use challenge, a person can feel alone or afraid to ask for help. That’s why having a good support network is incredibly important. For many people, peer specialists are a key part of their support network. A peer specialist is a person who uses their personal lived experience to provide support to others and demonstrate that recovery is possible. Some people lean on recovery coaches as part of their support network. A recovery coach is trained to help people achieve their goals related to substance use recovery. Our plan supports an expansion of peer specialists and recovery coaches across Wisconsin. This funding also supports Wisconsin's peer-run respite centers in their support of people with substance use issues.

Data dashboards and state administrative costs: $2.4 million

This funding will improve and enhance state data systems to monitor opioid program outcomes, as well as fund state level costs for administering these supplemental funds.

Expanding access to behavioral health telehealth services

With the support of Governor Evers, we are investing $5 million to make behavioral health services more available through telehealth. 

  • $2.5 million of this investment will be used for a new grant program for hospitals and health systems to expand and enhance child psychiatry telehealth services. One-year grants of up to $500,000 each have been awarded to five organizations. 
  • $2.5 million of this investment will be used for a new grant program for providers to partner with community organizations to establish neighborhood telehealth access points at food pantries, homeless shelters, libraries, long-term care facilities, community centers, and schools for people with limited access to technology and reliable internet service. One-year grants of up $100,000 each have been awarded to 26 organizations.
Last Revised: June 15, 2022