Tester Announces $2 Million for Montana Behavioral Health Services During COVID-19 Crisis

Senator secures CARES Act funding for state to provide behavioral health services in addition to funding for Tribal coronavirus responses

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced that the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (MT DPHHS) will receive $2 million in funding to bolster the state’s capacity to provide behavioral health services to individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Mitch McConnell’s original Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act package did not include mental health funding for states.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic straining Montana’s medical resources, it’s critical that we don’t let folks with substance use disorders and mental illnesses fall by the wayside,” said Tester. “Increased stress and isolation because of coronavirus leaves these folks at high risk, so behavioral health care is essential for getting them to the other end of this crisis and beyond. This funding will provide our state with tools to continue meeting the needs of these individuals while using methods that keep them, and our medical professionals, safe.”

Tester worked to include this funding as part of the CARES Act to help MT DPHHS provide telehealth, assessment, treatment, and recovery services to Montanans with substance use or mental health issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant is provided through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for the Montana Emergency COVID-19 Project with the goal of helping the state address the needs of these high-risk individuals.

Tester also announced that the Rocky Boy Health Board will receive $499,964 in funding for their Emergency COVID Project and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will receive $483,460 for their Healthy Spirit, Happy Heart Project also provided by SAMHSA. This funding will help both Tribes meet the needs of members with mental illnesses and substance use disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tester has been working tirelessly to ensure that Montana health care providers are prepared to combat the COVID-19 crisis. Last week, he secured $111.5 million for Montana’s hospitals, $9.1 million for Montana Community Health Centers, and $411,135 for research to help Montana providers prepare to respond to the pandemic. He recently demanded that the Trump Administration not leave rural hospitals behind in their coronavirus response, and he voted to deliver critical, urgent relief to Montana hospitals, workers, families, small businesses, and others hardest hit by the outbreak, which included $1.25 billion for the state of Montana.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak.