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Rural Health Information Hub

Funding for Rural Mental Health Programs

One approach to creating a sustainable mental health program is to ensure the program has continued funding. Funding for rural mental health programs comes from federal, state, and other sources. The funding available to a program may depend on the types of services offered.

In the United States, Medicaid is the largest payer for mental health services. Medicaid funding is a joint effort by states and the federal government and requires sustained support from both levels. Healthcare providers in rural areas are more reliant on Medicaid payments for reimbursement compared to providers in urban areas. For more information, see our Rural Healthcare Payment and Reimbursement topic page.

Additional funding opportunities for programs looking to improve mental health can be found in the Rural Funding & Opportunities section.

Federal Funding

Federal agencies are important sources of funding for rural mental health programs. The federal government funds mental health services in the following ways:

The federal government may provide sustained mental health program funding to states through Mental Health Block Grants (MHBG) from SAMHSA. Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics can receive funding from SAMHSA's expansion grants or through state Medicaid programs.

If rural mental health programs are interested in conducting mental health research or partnering with researchers to provide evidence for the effectiveness of rural mental health programming, the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers funding opportunities.

State Funding

State funding varies across the country, and some states may be more involved than others in funding mental health programs and organizations. However, all states pay for some mental health services through Medicaid, in conjunction with the federal government. Advocacy and nonprofit organizations, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) often advocate for state mental health funding.

Other Funding Sources

To ensure sustainable mental health programming, rural communities should consider securing funding beyond federal and state dollars. There are various avenues for this, including securing private health insurance reimbursement for services, collaborating with other organizations to consolidate and leverage resources, and seeking philanthropic support and in-kind donations. Examples of foundations that fund rural mental health programs include:

Resources to Learn More

The Federal and State Role in Mental Health
Describes the different roles federal and states play in addressing mental health with a focus on funding for mental health services and research.
Organization(s): Mental Health America

Rural Behavioral Health
Describes SAMHSA's rural behavioral health grants and programs for mental health and substance use disorder. Grants and programs cover treatment and workforce support, screening and early intervention, drug prevention, rural emergency services training, youth treatment, long term recovery, and technical assistance.
Organization(s): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration