Mississippi Selected for $1 Million Planning Grant to Implement Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics

Mississippi is one of 15 states that has received a $1 million Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) planning grant that aims to transform mental health and substance use treatment across the country by providing sustainable funding for robust community treatment services.

A CCBHC is required to provide an array of behavioral health services and to serve anyone who requests care for mental health needs or substance use disorder, regardless of the ability to pay. Mississippi’s goal in receiving this planning grant is to transition the statewide network of Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) to the CCBHC model of integrated care that provides people with care coordination and support in behavioral health care, physical health care, social services, and more.

“CCBHCs are required to provide nine distinct services, ranging from crisis services and risk assessments to outpatient services and peer support,” Mississippi Department of Mental Health Executive Director Wendy Bailey said. “Our state’s Community Mental Health Centers already provide all of those services. The groundwork is already in place to build CCBHCs and better improve access to and delivery of community-based behavioral health services.”

The CCBHC model will help address several issues identified as creating gaps or barriers to care in Mississippi, particularly those around the cost of care, which can affect everything from someone’s willingness to seek services, operations at service providers, and workforce availability.

According to the Mississippi Association of Community Mental Health Centers, the state’s CMHCs served approximately 102,634 individuals in 2020, but each year, they provide approximately $30 million in uncompensated or undercompensated care. Certifying them as CCBHCs will establish sustainable funding for additional investment in quality, evidence-based mental health and substance use services. The cost-based reimbursement made available through the CCBHC model will also allow the state to offer more competitive wages that can aid in alleviating workforce shortages.

Phaedre Cole, President of the Mississippi Association of Community Mental Health Centers and Executive Director of the Region 6 CMHC, Life Help, said the CCBHC model is quickly becoming the gold standard for the delivery of mental health and substance use disorder services. She noted that it addresses decades-old challenges that have led to nationwide issues in providing access to quality, data-driven mental health care in the community.

“Just like the rural hospitals across the state, the CMHCs are struggling with workforce shortages and long-term financial viability. Through enhanced reimbursements, the CCBHC model stands to address both of these issues while also holding CMHCs accountable for quality outcomes.

“It is a win for the state, providers, and most importantly, the thousands of individuals and families struggling with mental health and substance use disorders.”

Six of Mississippi’s 12 CMHCs are already recipients of CCBHC Expansion grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the federal agency that leads public health efforts regarding behavioral health in the nation. Those recipients are Regions 2, 3, 8, 9, 11, and 14.

The newly announced funding from SAMHSA provides $1 million for a 12-month planning process. DMH has selected two specific CMHCs to participate in this planning period. Region 6, located in the Delta region, and Region 14, in the Gulf Coast region, both have experience providing comprehensive behavioral health services and have high levels of need in their service areas. During this period, Mississippi will transition its current CMHC certification criteria to align with the CCBHC certification criteria, with Region 6 and Region 14 piloting the certification process. This transition will also include a close partnership with the Mississippi Division of Medicaid regarding the payment structure component of the CCBHC model.

The planning period will also include stakeholder engagement with consumers of mental health services, including youth, family members, and community leaders, to provide input on a customizable approach to care that maximizes the state’s resources and increases responsiveness to local and regional needs.

“We are extremely excited about implementing the CCBHC model in Mississippi and the possibilities it holds for providing mental health and substance use services in our state,” Bailey said. “We’re looking forward to working with Region 6 and Region 14 as we work to develop this transformative model of care in our state.”