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On September 19, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded over $396 million to combat the opioid crisis. The investments will enable HRSA-funded community health centers, academic institutions, and rural organizations to expand access to integrated substance use disorder and mental health services. The awards support HHS's Five-Point Opioid Strategy, which launched last year to empower local communities on the frontlines of the national epidemic.
"HRSA is committed to fighting this crisis by supporting our grantees with resources, technical assistance, and training to integrate behavioral health care services into practice settings and communities," said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas MS, Ph.D. “These funds enable HRSA grantees to continue to implement or expand substance use disorder and mental health services across the Nation.”
HRSA awarded $352 million to increase access to substance use disorder and mental health services through the Expanding Access to Quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services (SUD-MH) to 1,232 community health centers across the nation. The SUD-MH awards support health centers in implementing and advancing evidence-based strategies that best meet the substance use disorder and mental health needs of the populations they serve.
An additional $18.5 million will support Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) and Enhancing Behavioral Health Workforce (EBHW) awards. These awards support partnerships between 21 academic institutions and 54 HRSA-funded health centers. Together, these award recipients will increase the number of professionals and paraprofessionals who are trained to deliver integrated behavioral health and primary care services as part of health care teams in HRSA-supported health centers.
HRSA is awarding an additional $25.5 million to over 120 rural organizations to increase access to substance abuse prevention and treatment services serving rural populations across the country. Rural populations have been disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic and face a variety of unique challenges compared to individuals in more urban environments. Among other challenges, the limited access to substance abuse treatment services in rural areas puts these populations at a disadvantage to receiving the help they need to survive.
A total of $19 million is being awarded to 95 organizations under the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy's (FORHP) Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning (RCORP-Planning). Grant recipients will use this funding to develop plans to implement evidence-based opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery interventions designed to reduce opioid overdoses among rural populations at the highest risk for substance use disorders.
These one-year planning grants are a part of a multi-year initiative being implemented by HRSA to increase access to treatment and recovery services for opioid use disorder within rural areas.
Additionally, HRSA is awarding nearly $6.5 million to 26 rural organizations to expand the reach of the Rural Health Opioid Program (RHOP). Grant recipients will use these awards to help community members struggling with opioid abuse find locally available treatment options and support services through partnerships with local health care providers and other community-based groups.
HRSA also launched the Addressing Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnant Women & New Moms Challenge. Part of the MCHB Grand Challenges, this prize competition will award up to $375,000 in prizes to support tech innovations to improve access to quality health care, including substance use disorder treatment, recovery, and support services for pregnant women with opioid use disorders, their infants, and families, especially those in rural and geographically isolated areas.
HRSA has a number of investments targeting opioid and other substance use disorders across its bureaus and offices. To learn about HRSA-supported resources, technical assistance, and training to integrate behavioral health care services into practice settings and communities, visit HRSA's Opioid Crisis page.
*Their contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HRSA.