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Substance Use and Mental Health Block Grants

What is a Block Grant?

What is a Block Grant?

A block grant is a noncompetitive, formula grant mandated by the U.S. Congress. Eligible entities must submit an annual application to demonstrate statutory and regulatory compliance in order to receive the formula-based funding. SAMHSA is responsible for two block grant programs.

Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG)

The MHBG program provides funds and technical assistance to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 6 Pacific jurisdictions. Grantees use the funds to provide comprehensive, community-based mental health services to adults with serious mental illnesses and to children with serious emotional disturbances and to monitor progress in implementing a comprehensive, community-based mental health system.

Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services Block Grant (SUPTRS BG or SUBG)

The SUBG program provides funds and technical assistance to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, 6 Pacific jurisdictions, and 1 tribal entity. Grantees use the funds to plan, implement, and evaluate activities that prevent and treat substance use and promote public health.


What are the Purposes of a Block Grant?

Grantees use the block grant programs for prevention, treatment, recovery support, and other services to supplement Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance services. Specifically, block grant recipients use the awards for the following purposes:

  • Fund priority treatment and support services for individuals without insurance or for whom coverage is terminated for short periods of time.
  • Fund those priority treatment and support services that demonstrate success in improving outcomes and/or supporting recovery that are not covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance.
  • Fund primary prevention by providing universal, selective, and indicated prevention activities and services for persons not identified as needing treatment.
  • Collect performance and outcome data to determine the ongoing effectiveness of behavioral health promotion, treatment, and recovery support services.

Allotment Methodology

In general, SAMHSA allots for the block grants programs by:

  1. Setting aside a percentage of the appropriated amount to cover its costs for data collection, technical assistance, and program evaluation
  2. Calculating the baseline allotments based on certain factors
  3. Adjusting the allotments, if necessary, so that the statutory minimum allotment constraints are satisfied

For the SUBG, SAMHSA bases its state baseline allotment calculations on the relative shares of the Population-at-Risk, Cost-of-Services, and Fiscal Capacity Indexes. It bases territory allotments solely on the relative share of the population.

For the MHBG, SAMHSA uses similar factors in state and territory allotment calculations, except that the Weighted Population-at-Risk Index replaces the Population-at-Risk Index. In addition, different statutory minimum allotments apply.

Apply for a Block Grant

Learn more and access application materials.

Laws and Regulations

Laws and regulations that impact block grants.

Block Grant Resources

These resources provide additional information about block grants.

Last Updated
Last Updated: 04/24/2023
Last Updated